Matthew Ingram, The Wire:
Review of Hey Let Loose Your Love
May 2005

You hurriedly park your Morris Minor Traveller outside your pebbledash bungalow and tear into the lounge bedecked in brown acrylic, feverishly removing the sleeve from the new Focus Group LP, carefully lowering the 12 inches of static crackling plastic onto your formica-clad entertainment centre. Its creator, celebrated sleeve designer Julian House (Stereolab, Broadcast, Primal Scream) is an exacting collector of the tainted British parochial. Obsessed by the twilight world of Diana Dors, Donald Cammell, Joe Meek and Delia Derbyshire, he crafts both exquisite visual collages in thrall to European Modernism (the moiré effects from the covers of penguin books, Lettrism and Polish movie Posters) and divinely wrought soundscapes that hark back to an eternal past.
The 19 instrumentals on Hey Let Loose Your Love Love are so heavily woven that the fabric that holds them together threatens to disintegrate. Detail isn't oppressive in the least, merely destabilisingly delicate. Songs are like lopsided Victorian automata, instruments mismatch in incongruent tempos (one of House's stock sources are library records in which instrumental parts for songs are separated individually, tracks he proceeds to reconstruct elliptically) and sequences frequently crumble into soft-edged bliss before one's ears. It is almost as if the very action of their exposure is the agent of their collapse. Stranger still, though plainly audible, occasionally the music seems to disappear from earshot, becoming proverbially invisible, sinking into the netherworld of the unconscious. Recurrent themes serve as mnemonics luring the listener’s attention to the surface.
Pieced together from the mustiest samples- children’s exercise records, vintage BBC drama, clunky Brit jazz and (most pertinently) library records, this is an archaeology of emotion, a philosophically motivated exploration of the power of not just one's childhood memories, but of the collective unconscious. In the work of The Focus Group and House's partners Belbury Poly ant Eric Zann at ghostbox.co.uk (where the collective's entire output is available), memory is a theoretical portal to the phantasmal kingdom, not a trivial exercise in retro stylistics.