Album Reviews

Artifacts & Uranium: The Gateless Gate

Mike Vest and Fred Laird take psychedelia to new places with their latest instalment.

For both Mike Vest and Fred Laird, collaboration is about as customary as flicking the kettle on in the morning. The perennial riff doctor and the ever reliable vibe maker are forever exchanging ideas with kindred spirits in their quest to move forward and never look back throughout this rolling torrent of a borderless creative world.

Resuming as Artifacts & Uranium, following last year’s second album, Pancosmology, you would do very well to find a better homage to The Stooges. Dead-eyed jams with the kind of howling drones that blow holes through the speakers, Pancosmology was arguably the best collaboration offering either artist had created.

Talking to Laird about this and his wonderful Empty House project, and the Fleetwood-based sound purveyor spoke of his aim to always create something entirely different with each record. Again, it’s all about the vibes, and with Artifacts & Uranium’s latest offering, The Gateless Gate, alongside Vest the pair flip the script once more.

Mike Vest Interview: “It’s great to see albums form over time”

Consisting of two long-form jams, The Gateless Gate is a panoramic view of both artists’ limitless creative world. In many ways, it’s a protracted documentation of what Vest and Laird have each produced in their artistic endeavours over the years. Like always, though, there’s something new to try and untie.

Artifacts & Uranium

Beginning with The Twilight Chorus. With an abundance of cosmic fuzz courtesy of Laird’s gadget wrangling and and mouth-watering bass tone and Vest’s scorching riffs, the pair unravel the hidden layers of kraut-rock whilst adding wonderful new dimensions to it in something that sounds like nothing else out there. It really is psychedelia in its purest form.

Empty House Interview: “It came about as a quick idea”

The Sound if Desolation is anything other than its title suggests. Opening with a sea of synths, Vest stamps his mark with a buzz-saw drone in what is a celestial blur that overshadows the works of Loop. While many pit the latter firmly in the ire of space rock, their psychadelic credentials are far more prominent than most give them credit for. Here, Vest and Laird, while certainly not pastiche, give a subtle nod in the direction of Robert Hampson with a tune so locked in the groove, it will having you reaching for Heaven’s End.

While The Gateless Gate is a release that takes a little longer to seep into the pores, the perseverance is worth it; each listen revealing new facets and subtle inflections. A trait Laird in particular is renowned for – a true audiophile who forages in the nooks and crannies for sonic gold dust.

Alongside the immediacy of underground riff master Vest, it’s a peculiar combination that produces magnificent results. Their alliance as Artifacts & Uranium is as good as any functioning collaboration in the U.K underground, and it’s down to the simple mission statement: don’t make the same record twice. From the title to Nigel Adams’ fantastical sordid artwork, The Gateless Gate adheres to the notion and more.

The Gateless Gate is out now via Echodelick Records / Riot Season. Purchase from Bandcamp here and here.

For more releases from Mike Vest and Fred Laird, visit their respective Bandcamp pages here and here.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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