Sunday, 23 June 2013

Discovery: Indigolab - The Last Cartographer Of Dreams


Downtempo electronica holds within itself a deep sense of discovery. Regardless of how distant or preserved (or held back even) the sounds might resonate onto its listener, one key theme that runs through a vast portion of records in this sub-genre, is the concept of movement to the new...even if not precisely of a physical manner. It's that beyond-physical metamorphosis; that potential to carry sound and texture into a scale of some indecipherable uniqueness of emotion and posture, that a lot of artists tend to direct their ideas and navigate such sound as trudging through. Indigolab, if his music sleeves are anything to go by, might get a laugh from one or two passers-by. But bizarrely, the man's humorously striking series of silhouette-like poses about such abstracted visages, bodes well with the vibes these particular sounds in electronic music tend to portray: liberation. The free-roaming intrigue and the stand-alone liberation certain places, locations or states of being hold for themselves. Who, what and even where it is that manifests about this new realm? From its title alone, The Last Cartographer Of Dreams appears to spell both a definition and a ultimate dispelling of such mannerism. And from its fourteen-track, seventy-plus minute voyage, Indigolab's mixture of downtempo, chillout and ambient electronica alike, tends more and more to be the shinier glossary of suggestion - for newcomers and old followers alike - that this sub-genre just might require a bit more of.

The first notes of reference we get is the uncompromising emphasis on space and simplicity as is the case with the somber opener The Morpheus Tear, with its gentle acoustic strums lavished with layers of washed reverb and clammy percussion. It's a disclaimer that the importance of all these sorts of ventures is the opportunism, but at the same time, it's the understanding about this new space of which we enter. Zed, by contrast, opens up the brief phase into new territory, with a similar reclusive stance amid the sprawl of clouded tone and weightless mystery. But amidst it all, there's a deeper sense of mystery - perhaps invitingly seductive in its distant haze of vocals and looming synth patterns. And with Conscious, the journey starts from whence the first move into sweeping electronics eventually takes hold. Indigo's progression tends to feel tentatively pervasive, but at the same time still manages to conjure that attractiveness and aroma about its part-soothing, part-boggling slur of ambient electronics and wavy rhythms.

But of course there is space, and perhaps remembrance, of the recollection that this is a journey. With that, brings the perspective of that of the individual; the spectator, the wanderer, the lost little lamb finding its way in a realm of profound ambiguity. Chaos Falls Forever seeks to emphasize, almost epitomize, the listener with its off-shot acoustic strings and greater translucency of ambient drone. But even with the lingering bafflement of space and position, Indigo's latter leading into more clearer organic instrumentation suggests there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. Or in this case, a clearing from out the neutrality of unsuspected fog and confusion. Once there, perhaps through the vocal chatter (and maybe even the very titling) to Dreamland & Recurring Shapes of Dreams, Indigo's focus now lies on the more clearer and concrete of visuals - the latter track's twitch of high-pitch synths that lead into more frostier, high-paced loops of electronics - and how exactly that directly affects the listener's journey through the void of unfathomable tone and shade.

When, however, the focus is not on the flow and the direct sequence of events for which Indigo lays out in front of us, tracks like Mesmer tend to favor the momentum more than anything else. It's interesting because from initial perspective, the way the guitar and murkier, lower-grounded swell of drone meet feels anything but simmered or relaxed. If anything, there's a slight tension - maybe even sinister behavior - to how the guitars seemingly and happily loop while the remaining sound around it morph and phase between positions. Perhaps it might have benefited had this new-found state of conflict and anxiety be investigated further, than simply left to blissfully fade off. But as Nocturnimal follows suit - the way this track particularly holds onto those same measures of high and low frequency sounds feels more the perfect balance or unison, than conflict of interest - my belief is that this World; this realm of openness and spacious electronics, is rather more truthful in its identity, if abruptly tense at times. The Portal, despite its name, acts as a kind of panoramic to all these sounds' nature as being that of texture, but also that of lead and a sense of reason for why such visuals are conjured. Quite useful then, as follower Spectra Reverie immediately captures the listener's scampered state with a much punchier and colourfully lively stream of percussion and strings. And with the added focus of synths and reverb, there's an unrivaled tensity and hefty momentum carried through the track, perhaps alluding to as much the raw power as much the untapped mystery of a genre such as this.

And as the album slowly leads off with acoustic guitars more spacious and dreamy than previous - vocals offering foresighted abodes albeit through slightly humanely distorted tone - it gives an underlining idea as to the way The Last Cartographer Of Dreams seems to set off and rediscover (as much for itself as well as for us) just how promising, even uplifting, this genre's potential for state and stance, can generate from such simple methodologies. Traversing a great abstract distance of space and environment. Indigolab's offerings are never quite thoroughly story-based or even conceptual in that they carry a specific message or key context tying all songs together. Instead, what we get (to its benefit) is a more pinnacle, keenly-sought definition in what such utterances of distance and position mean when the laws of conventional physics and identity are left behind in music. And the greatest thing of all values coming through here, is Indigo's clear-cut reminder to us that even in such architecturally-rich dreams - even those manufactured from out our own blissful delicacy - there is no peace without conflict, psychologically-bound or not. And even in the most voided and open of texturally crafted Worlds, there's always that partial spot - regardless of size - that looms on the horizon...ready to conjure as close to chaos as one can imagine. The Last Cartographer Of Dreams is out 24th June via the artist's bandcamp.
~Jordan

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