Thursday 12 August 2021

Please Hold

The post in question I mentioned last time is taking a little longer than I want it to, but as I said last time I kind of expected that. Nothing major - just it's a very broad topic and I'm tackling it like a proper article instead of these usual quick-fire posts. I've been a little busier IRL too to boot. Still, that's why we plan for these things isn't it? And besides, I didn't want to do two fairly big posts back to back anyway.

Helen Frankenthaler - Robinson's Wrap (1974)

So I've got a little selection of things I'm eyeing to get my hands on soon, a fair warning we are heading back down IDM lane once again though - starting with Arovane, another find from my deep dive into the genre many years ago. My introduction delicate, almost ambient Tides, an album full of delicate electronics and for my money potentially the most accessible 'IDM' album of all time - there's no hyper-technological abrasiveness here, the tracks with beats come out sounding more closer to Trip Hop (particularly the kind of stuff Akira Yamaoka makes for the Silent Hill soundtracks), a great stepping stone if you're looking to get into the genre.

But my choice this time is actually from the follow up to that album with Lilies, a much more technological feeling album but no less organic on the melody front. Which is actually thematically relevant as there is a very strong Japanese influence on this album, first appearing on Passage To Nagoya, which features a sample of the Shinkansen announcer detailing the route to Shin-Ōsaka Station. My pick from the track list also shows this influence on the title, Cry Osaka Cry - by far and away the most conventionally 'IDM' of the lot, which is actually why I've chosen it this time. As long time readers will know I have a real soft spot for this style, it can be a little generic at times but I think Arovane skirts that nicely here, his melody work here is great and I just love that those delicate elements get their moment in the sun to stand alone in the final quarter. Lovely stuff.

Returning to early Apparat for more of the same vibe with his debut album: the delightfully german Multifunktionsebene. It was a bit difficult to find on streaming or otherwise legally on the web for a while, though unfortunately that's still the case for a few earlier Apparat releases like one of my favourites from him in the Shapemodes EP. Back on topic though, I do like it when there are little blurbs on Bandcamp pages about the albums in question, the one for Multifunktionsebene details the process behind the creation, which according to the bandcamp page is as follows:
at variable intervals, audio data are manipulated by using random modulation algorithms. the result is relaxed electronica, "de-beautified" by (severe) exceptional sound errors.
I'm not sure I 100% buy that, as someone who's worked with a similar kind of process before, that normally gets you some good bases that you then need to refine, but then again mine was for still images and not audio so maybe you can kind of stitch the good bits of randomness together easier in audio form. At any rate if there were a single track that would make me believe that it would be Multifocus, that squeaky synth making up the backbone of the track does seem pretty random in its excecution, and I will admit Apparat does a great job of contrasting it with some really smooth backing, pop it on some decent headphones and you can pick out the intricacies. While most of my favourite Apparat works are his later ones, I do have an appreciation for tracks like this, it's a striking debut at the very least, and Apparat builds on this foundation in really interesting ways in the releases afterwards.

Ocoeur to close out - I'm sure I say this every time I talk about them but they are yet another find from my Grooveshark days, one of the few recommended artists underneath The Flashbulb if I remember right. My introduction was Light As A Feather which is a fantastic album in its own right and an ideal intro to the man's work, it has an almost palpable textural feel to it that is on show in full force throughout that album. Truth be told though it's a little reductive to just label Ocoeur's output as just IDM - while it does fit under the broad umbrella of the term it doesn't give you a great idea as to what exactly it sounds like, which is one of the main reasons I don't much care for the 'IDM' name: Boards Of Canada and Aphex Twin are two wildly different atmospheres.

For example, there a lot of Techno influence when it comes to Ocoeur - not so much that the tracks come close to being full-on Techno mind you but it's certainly there, and I can think of no better example than the one I've chosen here. When it all comes together you get traces of the likes of Burial and Moderat too as First Highway breathes to life over the first couple of minutes. The sparse kick drums tease, coming in to full force around the 2:35 mark - underpinning the gentle weave of melodies and sounds that Ocoeur plays with over the rest of the runtime. I would still recommend Light As A Feather as a starting point, but if you like what you hear there then A Parallel Life will make a fine addition to it.

And that'll do it for this time. I don't have an exact ETA on when the bigger post I'm working on will be done, but I'll try to put a couple more of these smaller ones out in the meantime if it takes longer still. In the meantime I hope you find something in these selections that really appeals to you, I'd recommend Light As A Feather even if you're not into the genre, it's has some really great atmospheres on it and isn't too avant garde in its stylings, making it a much more digestible listen than you might expect given the IDM label. And with that, all that's left to say is - as always - stay safe and enjoy the music.


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