John Bender – I Don’t Remember Now / I Don’t Want to Talk About it (Superior Viaduct, May 2016)

Superior Viaduct call this the ‘holy grail of minimal lo-fi electronics’, and they’re right. What they’re wrong about is that it has taken 35-plus years for listeners to discover it. As a holy grail, this record has long been cherished, ripped, taped and retaped, played and replayed and drooled over on Discogs for a decade at least, and it’s refreshing and magnificent to have it all by itself, in hand-stamped minimal encasing, with its own minimal titles (numbers, not words) and available to listen to in glorious red wax and recycled brown mail-paper.

Marrying an industrial intuition with an almost classical sense of melody, I Don’t Remember Now / I Don’t Want to Talk About It sees Bender bend his solitary experimentation into skewed battlecries (“35B1” aka “Victims of Victimless Crimes”, recently featured on JD Twitch’s So Low), sculptorially playful synth patterns (“35A9”), and impossibly sweet, hopeful soundscapes, rendered consistently opaque by Bender’s hollow, existential vocals hovering just behind the synths (see “36A3”). Bender’s first record is cherry-picked from the best of of his enormous self-taped production between 1978 and 1980, and comes off as a genre-defining monument to minimal synth; the uncompromising achievement of a perfect synthesis of cold room starkness and home-made warmth. At the same time, it’s really quite genreless, and special precisely because of its uniqueness and existence outside of codes and modes. Deep, delightful, and strong.