Art of the Memory Palace – Dusk at Trellick Tower EP

Andrew Mitchell and Raz Ullah return with a claustrophobic, dreamlike voyage through the corridors of a 70s high-rise

Album Review by Fraser MacIntyre | 11 Apr 2019
  • Art of the Memory Palace – Dusk at Trellick Tower EP
Album title: Dusk at Trellick Tower EP
Artist: Art of the Memory Palace
Label: Static Caravan Records
Release date: 15 Mar

London’s Trellick Tower, completed in 1972, was once dubbed ‘the Tower of Terror’ by a wary public as vandalism, flooding and violent crime began to plague its residents. Their communal desire to escape the clutches of high-rise hell reached fever pitch after the death of a pensioner, while rubbish filled the corridors, lifts malfunctioned and support staff rebelled. 47 years later, and an apartment within the now iconic Brutalist structure can fetch as much as £749,000. Ernő Goldfinger, the Hungarian architect responsible for the building, was once a key source of inspiration for J. G. Ballard as he penned High-Rise (many parallels can be drawn between Goldfinger and the character Anthony Royal). Now, his work, his temper, and his notorious distaste for humour have intrigued Andrew Mitchell and Raz Ullah, who, together, record as Art of the Memory Palace.

Mitchell – who describes the duo’s Goldfinger-inspired EP as "dystopian-pop" – is no stranger to taking inspiration from his surroundings. In the recent past, he channelled the ethereal grandeur of the North Sea and its potential for destruction on The Paralian, his third release as Andrew Wasylyk. Allowing darkness to simmer beneath an invitingly surreal surface once again on Dusk at Trellick Tower; Mitchell (alongside Ullah) ably captures the sense of wonder that must have accompanied the rise of such an ambitious and alien structure, and the desolation that followed. Ullah, based in Manchester (Mitchell lives in Dundee), frequently tours with Jane Weaver. Anyone who has caught her live recently will no doubt be able to pinpoint his distinctive presence with ease.

Black Lighthouse concludes with ferocious fuzz-fuelled guitar from Mitchell, while Wretched Mortal unfolds like a pleasant yet bizarre daydream. In this EP, moments of beauty are subtly undercut by a feeling of dread, and Mitchell sings of a 'trojan horse' as the instrumental gradually starts to become more and more jarring. All is never as it initially appears.

Sonically, the EP consistently pleases and intrigues: each listen revealing new cause for euphoria and claustrophobia. A haunting exploration of Goldfinger’s work: only as the final track draws to a close do we fully comprehend the decadent and resplendent heights of modernity Mitchell and Ullah have led us through; and the cruel, inhumane lows.

Listen to: Man Spectre, Wretched Mortal, Dusk at Trellick Tower