Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Ital Tek - Nebula Dance

 

While I can't necessarily speak for the wider World and decisively pin-point just how far this trend has progressed, it does feel that dubstep has hit its peak at the close of 2012, both as a style in composing music, but so too sadly, as a mere exploitation for attention-seeking commercialism and mainstream money-grabbers hoping to make as quick a buck as possible. And though the sound has found itself the idealistic Frankenstein's monster for the industry to labor and [d]evolve even further into commodity, there is however, those artists who still thrive to use the sound to instigate a sense of expression that isn't all about the sheen and the shock of its content. Alan Myson's Ital Tek - not to be confused by 2012's newcomer, the single-named Ital of Planet Mu - has always found the better side to dubstep's inclusion in modern-day dance music. And while his earlier releases certainly didn't waver from that direction, it's Tek's third release for Planet Mu, 'Nebula Dance' that signals both a maturity and a sense of self-awareness for the Brighton-based musician.

The title track which opens the album, while not sharing the same textures and precise sounds of the style, certainly showcases the same appliance and delivery of breakbeat and intricately nifty rhythm. The jungle-like percussion and wavering pops of instrumentation all-in-all sound less cliche and awkward (than maybe what it might have been had the production not been as refined and thoroughly worked at as it is here), and while there's little differentiation in instruments and in tone, it still delivers quite the punch - enough to translate onto a dance-floor as much as through a set of laptop speakers. And while that same upbeat momentum passes straight onto the following track 'Pixel Haze', there's more of a - as the track might suggest - a sense of knowledge and understanding about not only the history, but more importantly, the successes of dance music. The track has a lush mix of glittery synthesizers, rampant drumbeats and that which holds it all together, this techno-driven acidic wash of euphoria that while does give this track that Ibiza nostalgia, doesn't necessarily take hold and dictate. Just as quickly, the track moves away in parts and descends into this deep darkly-lit nestling of house drums and bass that is as much menacing as it is welcoming.

It does remind me fondly of musicians like Rustie, whom - in 2011 for the Scot on Warp - provided us with some of the most engaging yet recognizable array of electronic music. And while there have already been artists this year, both established and new who have been key in addressing the luxury and the glory behind dance music's wide spectrum of sound, Ital Tek feels more like a man comfortable with what he has and unwilling to let his attention slip away from sight. 'Dusk Beat' does incorporate more of a micro-house philosophy on the texture and the minimalism of its beats, but there's little to suggest Tek has ideally comfortable in this sound. Whether that's down to experience or personal preference, the track does have less of an impact than Tek's more upbeat and rougher compositions. But like its previous track, the follower 'Intercruise' certainly raises some slight hints as to something more melodic and harmonizing nestled in its backdrop. The glistening synths while make for a deep and prolonging backdrop for the music to nestle against, it's Tek's glitchy and choppy percussion and the beats in which they're processed for that are the highlight of this track. A highlight, which makes for interesting integration between the more harmonic sounds and the forefront elements we are more likely to take notice of.

But when it comes down to it, as much as I'd like to describe this album as having a wider demographic of adventure and journeying its sounds, it does feel more and more like the sounds themselves go the same way as the evident limitation in genre and methodology with what Tek is used to. It's fitting yes, because it highlights and sticks to his key strength with beats and tempo, but there are moments on this album where you feel that the sounds simply rely too much on their expectant visualizing rather than encompassing something more into their structure and their relation with the track's other components. A track like 'Glokk' feels like it relies so much on its ecstatic deliverance of drumbeats - and the glowing response of synths that react and float amid it all - and less on the opportunity to providing more in the way of variance and texture. 'Solar Sail' does much better because it shows a sense of awareness in knowing where to start and where to cease in the case of its drum usage and the accompanying billowing of walled sounds. There's more of a focus on sampled vocals too, which like some other tracks previous, adds more of an organic and human suggestion to the way it's presented. But most of all, it's the little things like the mellow organ that pops up in timid little quantities that I find catching my attention more, which in a way is a shame, because I can tell how much effort Tek's put into the overall production of the track.

Indeed, Tek's skills as a musician and a producer truly comes to light when he focuses less on the overall mix, and more instead on emphasizing the importance on certain instruments and elements to a track. 'Human Version', the undeniable stand-out of this album immediately withdraws the listener from any previous lull of euphoria and drags them straight into this tense but still upbeat ravaging of beats and tone. The track itself flickers and flutters its way through a barrage of electric cymbals and high-flying percussion before it simmers to lower ground amid all the wailing electro, and trails its way through the thickening and muddy underlay of bass that lays underneath. The album's closer 'Yesterday Tomorrow Today' certainly emphasizes the album's hidden techno agenda while at the same time cementing the importance of the album's inclusion of dubstep via the warm and glowing sway of synths and wobbly bass lines that each take sequential turns in energizing the flow and the momentum of the album's end so that it leads off into something far more spacious and futuristic almost.

Though solid and worthy of some merit in its production and execution, there are moments on this album that do beg the question on whether repetitiveness is in essence - and to put it quite objectively - a good thing or a bad thing. No doubt Ital Tek's love for the dance floor is as much apparent as his embracing of electronic's contemporary ideas and the up-to-date means of producing and enginnering such a sound. But it does leave a slight sense of doubt looming as to whether this form of progression on 'Nebula Dance' can really uphold the weight of time and still sound as fresh and as lively as it will do three, five...even ten years down the line. Certainly the market is more denser and livelier than it was in the past, but in an age when sound is key and deliverance is king, it's up to Tek himself to decide whether he's a man who takes pride in his interest over his professionalism on development. Nevertheless, Alan Myson is, as I said at the beginning, a mature musician and a skillful producer at that. And while there are the odd blips of indecisiveness and repetition that may not exactly speak positively about the album's direction, what you get standing as an opposition to that, is a well-sought well-executed promise of luxury, contemporary - and yes, catchy - electronic dance music.
~Jordan

7.4

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