Friday, 1 February 2013

Jordan's Album Round-up: January

So you know the drill by now, right? Here are a few select mentions and quick reviews for those albums I haven't had time to make full-blown extensive critiques of, and those, more than likely, I'll be begged to cover by...oh, every one of the three people that read my reviews.

Grouper - The Man Who Died In His Boat

The forth full-length album from folk/drone ambient recording artist Liz Harris, under the alias Grouper, following the critically acclaimed A.I.A. double 12" release, and the true follow-up to her 2008 release, Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill. Taken from recordings of the same period, Grouper's sound finds itself returning to that familiar ethereal withdrawal of atmospheric acoustic instrumentation and overstretched drone tones, which paints the music in an overwhelming undercurrent of gray-scale shading and rich organic textures.

But it's Grouper's somber, but overly nostalgia-swung waning of vocals that adds a much more effective emotional ting to this album. Alongside her carefully trotted guitar strums and inclusion of atmospheric field recordings of something perhaps darker and apathetic in its surrounding, her instrumentation is what provides a sense of prolonged comfort on this record. And it's this precise balance between the longing stretch of vocals and the rhythmic palette of acoustics, that envelops us so strongly in the album's overall withdrawn atmosphere. While not entirely lying neatly in either folk or indeed the ambient fields, its nestling between the two instead, is a perfect fit in taking the two genres' strongest points, and here, molds them into something compelling and illustratively prolonged.

8.2



FaltyDL - Hardcourage

One of 2013's new boys to the Ninja Tune roster is American electronic producer and recording artist, Dew Lustman aka FaltyDL. His debut release for the label, Hardcourage - and third full-length of his career - dabbles like fingers in a pie with a multitude of the label's notoriously recognizable genres of electronica, instrumental hip-hop, experimental music and even a slight tint of trip-hop in places. And led by an upbeat 2-step drive - veiled by the music's charismatic understanding of contemporary garage, FaltyDL's debut is a definite refining of electronic music production as much as it is a vast spectrum of the sound's multitude of sub-genres and identities.

But it's the music's very own colorful cover-all-fields philosophy on synthetic orchestration and clean-cut production, that dominates this record. As a result, it offers some broadened introductory elements that, ultimately, end up coming across as shallow depths of discovery rather than scented delves into particular corners of electronic music. And while the variety does offer something for everyone - or as close to everyone - here, the development and integrity to Lustman's sound does leave a lingering concern as to where his own identity has found itself, musically. Nevertheless, with such an expectant audience for a label complacent in its output, Hardcourage is a pristine and refreshing addition to today's contemporary electronic library.
 
 7.5



Black Light Burns - Lotus Island

The third album - and first to cover a conceptual approach - from the side-project of Wes Borland, better known (most likely) as the lead guitarist for Limp Bizkit, continues the band's darkly sequential flow of experimental rock aesthetics; here the record poised as an alternate soundtrack to Jodorowsky's 1973 film, The Holy Mountain. The album itself, in all its industrial post-rock swatches - with hints of metal present too - begins in a slow crawl of smaller bites created by Borland himself, before unveiling the band's more constructed, contemporary deliverance of rasher, rougher guitar-led melodies and harmonization.

And while the album itself does offer an interesting approach in its subject matter over the grittier, darker side to city life and city atmosphere, the content held within does falter and feel slightly less worked over at times. Nevertheless, like the album's cover, the music has something of a Francis Bacon feel to it in its double-take flicker of human symbolism, yet still coming off in as inhuman and monstrous a manner that the real World often pretends to be. A sign of some great instrumentation, as much as there are some wavering signs for concern in how developed other tracks really are, Lotus Island is a respectable and intriguing listen for anyone who favors the likes of GY!BE, but would incline less of an apocalyptic sting in its tail.

7.0



Pantha Du Prince & The Bell Laboratory - Elements Of Light

The German techno boffin, who dabbles with the less artificially-lit futurism the genre is often highlighted as, and more with the secretive shadowed confines instead, returns to the forefront three years after Black Noise, in a state of uplifted discovery with his new LP, a five-track offering that sees the minimal architect paired with the offering of a five-man, one-instrument, heavily-rich, foray of percussive chimes and ringing of bells that brings light to Pantha's darkly-secluded techno shades.

While the album begins fairly monotonous and lone in its instrumentation - bells and chimes creating a variant of textures and tones - throughout the record, we're greeted with Prince's increasingly-built momentum and placement of secluded, prolonging, electronic beats. Clashing against, as much as they work intricately into the opposing icy, echo of the more percussive arrangements, electronics flutter from deep rumblings to rhythmic flows as the album continues its shifting craft of bell sounds that leave a rather fittingly isolated atmosphere about Prince's lonely passage of minimal electronics.

7.6



Mountains - Centralia

Sixth offering, and the follow-up to 2011's Air Museum, the acoustic-ambient hybrid of the Brooklyn-based two-piece finally find their comfort zone in Centralia, a seven-track offering of slow-burning electronic drones and comforting guitar instrumentation that's as much secluded consciously in its acoustic tones, as it is projected in a somewhat spectral withdrawl in its electronic shoegaze-like expansion. And separated in equal parts by tracks that are one half single-figure minutes in length, and double figure minute long in the other, Mountain's blurred production and accompanying warming comfort in guitar sounds, creates a remarkable nestling for the listener to dive straight into.

All the while the album progresses closer and closer to its finale, there is a dominating overwhelming of the record's lack of motion or framing of time, and this works to Mountain's unprecedented advantage. The abrasive texture of synths and drone and the rhythmic, composite placement of guitar gives this album its sought-after multi-dimensional appeal. And though the album may not carry as much variety or change in concept as it's proceeding senior's by other artists in this field, it's the way the music comes across like a melded, mild-mannered passer-by that provides a consolidating, as opposed to excusable, justification - and well-sought execution - in its timeless, motionless exertion of warm, ambient-drone structures.

8.0

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