Synthesist Tim Stebbing was part of the league of UK’s DIY electronic music artists such as Kevin O’Neill, Greg Truckell, Paul, Nagle, Peter Tedstone, Michael Neil, Marvin Wilson and Colin Potter from the mid ‘80s. In those pre-Internet days, everything was still done by post, swapping tapes back and forth. The cassette fanzine Inkey$ was a big part of the scene as was the affiliated “UK Electronica” festival of which many still have fond precious memories I guess. Big influences on Tim’s music -released on five privately released cassettes and one cassette on John Palmer’s MixMusic label- were Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Berlin School music in general and J.M. Jarre, which led eventually to compose relatively short tracks often with a verse/chorus type structure. In November 1990 Mr Stebbing moved to Germany for work reasons just around the time Clive Littlewood (of Electronical Dreams) released his final cassette album “Into the Exponential”. Tim then sold most of his gear and wasn’t active on the music scene after that.
Due to the troubles of Benjamin Newton the limited-edition double vinyl “The Atmosphere Factory” saw the light of day in October 2018. Tim himself applied his audio engineering skills to maximise the sound quality of the old cassette masters for the 14 tracks featured here. The result is a trip down memory lane and the sound of ‘80’s EM.
Notable sequencer/melodic-spiced tracks here are the basic but slow developing “Trapped” (contrary the weak “In Flows of time” from the same album “12D World”), the bit Jarre-esque “Duel”, the matured, melodic exercise “Silverlake III”(pity there’s only one track from that album) or the strong TD-oriented “Triphibion”. Highlights for me are the energetic yet sparkling “Book of Sand/Alef Null” and the uplifting “Lost in the Sky” along slow evolving moodscapes with desolate undercurrents as featured on “Forbidden Planet”, “Glider” and “Timelike Night”.
I’d say this album is recommended to those wishing to sample Tim Stebbing’s work, although I hope sincerely the fully remastered and upgraded music of both “Silverlake” and “Skylines” will also appear someday…