I have to admit that I count Paul as a friend – however, as with all releases by acquaintances and loved ones, I will try and give a non-partizan account of how I hear the album; and also stick with the mantra of no mud-slinging.
I believe this was Paul’s first release under his birth name – he had a history of recording as The Digitariat but that project was laid to bed months ago. Released in January of 2016, this multi-track synthesiser album is one of great beauty.
Using a host of equipment, Paul crafted this album in his London flat and it bears the hallmark of a cult classic – he has quickly found his chops in a genre that was not harsh noise or power electronics.
Whilst some of the ‘bloops’ are repetitive – in a good way – it leads to a sense of impending claustrophobia. I am unsure if this is what Paul intended for the listener to experience? I am sure he will correct me when I next see him if I am wrong, but, this is just as powerful as any of the power electronics that he produced as The Digitariat.
The opening track, Exiles, has a bouncy-stab-like bassline that creeps like a spider in to your mouth as you sleep. Only to be spat out as you gag in preparation of the second track, the title track – Purple Field.
Purple Field sounds like it was made on a large Eurorack modular beast of an affair. The fact that Paul makes his music using analogue equipment is a testament to the man. Some would say that the oeuvre of high end equipment instead of software synths is a dying DIY art-form – but – thanks to to musicians like Paul, it is being kept alive. The warmth of the sounds on this album are not something that you can achieve using software instruments alone.
The third track, Thread Of Light, sees Paul back on home ground with a Harsh introduction that has a lot of different elements washing over you as you are immersed in the roar of distorted white noise. White Noise was that? But, there is so much more going in this first 60 seconds than in a lot more albums. It invigorates the mind and slays the senses. Through the use of a series of filters, Paul guides the listener to the fourth track, Basingstoke 10. Basingstoke 10 is almost drone! Basingstoke 10 is a track that echoes around my sound system to the point where it disorientates and perplexes. However, it is a cracking track and a refreshing track after the onslaught that was Thread Of Light.
As an album – it is a lot of music that you receive for the £4 asking price – around an hour’s worth of music! For this project (the project of making music under his birth name) it is a feat that is rarely accomplished to out-do your existing work, recorded under a pseudonym, in one album. Paul built up a following as The Digitariat, and knocked them bleeding to the ground when he told them he was stopping making music under that name. Keeping a hand in SBV, he channeled his energy in to that project whilst reserving a pensive side to release this debut album as Paul Daniel Knowles. An accomplishment to have this album as a representation of what you can achieve, even more so if it is your debut under a new name.