TBR: 11th February
Co-owner of Vanguard Sound and Anunnaki Cartel, prolific DJ and producer Chris Mitchell is ready to send out two releases at once. As well as Shadow Wands, there's also a splendid offering in the pipeline with Time Horizon. With his trusted Ensoniq ESQ1, Chris Mitchell builds beatless soundscapes propped up by melodic and warmed up wavecraft. As well as appearing on his own label, Chris Mitchell has worked with several others. Cementing his name in the histories of the likes of Plan B Recordings, Sistrum, and Proper Traxx, this chameleon of directions demonstrates his versatility with apparent ease. Chris Mitchell's career has taken him all over the world with his music, with international appearances including Manchester, Berlin, Paris and Tel Aviv already in his photo album. Chris Mitchell is a perfect example of an electronic musician whose work would look and sound great on tape, which is why XCPT decided to release his latest work on a limited number of them. Including a digital download, which fortunately for the rest of us is not limited, this ultra-rare piece of musical history doesn't have to leave the packet. Otherwise, you will need a cassette player. Blow the dust off your hi-fi or get a new one from here. Cassette releases are growing in popularity. Seen as a collector's choice, something to treasure and show to your friends, the old fashioned technology perhaps ties a knot between these modern sounds and their analogue foundations.
The album begins with Severing The Pain Of Analysis. Over-thinking is a habit which can lead to all kinds of unhelpful speculation, so beginning with this sounds like a great idea. Twinkling digital sounds run scales through the hair of the quiet, growing louder with each bar. Choral voice joins to underpin the sky-facing light. Bass tones add their grounding swell as the melodic dance of notation blooms. Stillness and movement combine with this subtle and invigorating composition. Build up in the digital arpeggios and leaping chord segments grow to astonishing heights before the undersound surges forward and allows the stability to fortify the new levels. Cosmic and spectral tones reveal the opening of the second number. Sudden pumps of depth in distant bass brings a far-reaching space between the sounds. Tune breaks free from the melodic chaos which bubbles from the looping synthesisers. New notes splash over the edges in neatly arranged patterns, which gradually build to become new tributaries to the greater river of symphony. Ghostly keys add a layer of the mysterious to the atmosphere, the combinations of notes draw on sudden and imminent strange. In anticipation, Undivided plays on our fears of tension.
Igo adds something new. Snow-storm like static drones through the brief pause, and with wavering tone, begins to draw an abstract picture. Twisting harmonics produce a volley of feedback and audible electronics while a solitary cymbal acts as a distant sun hidden by clouds. Occulted beauty hides behind distorting sonics and amplifier hiss. Chimes with sustain droop like pipe organ and slowly build to drown all out. The track fades to bring in a heavy thumping bass. Distorted depth-charges grab and suck while unison melodics form an almost clear composition. Underworld sensations and sinister melancholia surge with every bar. Additions of synth only add to the impending pressure of the music. Galdos has a creepy feel, it remains so even when new found positive elements peak through the gloomy fog. Cymbals return, this time with a more frantic and energetic delivery. Excitable and ready to run, this tense and foreboding number induces a state of hyper-awareness.
After The Fall begins on a plucked melody, with a bell quality. Wispy lines of sound draw mangled patterns which grow to crush the initial softness. Eerie directions of notation cannon with overwhelming bass tones while an aqualine flow gently glistens throughout. Slow and musing, this deep and heighty number reveals ghostly windswept peaks with declines into forested valleys, dwarfed by the immensity of the sky. Ancestral memories of long-gone cultures walk among the rocks as we in the present day absorb all that has come before. Next comes a shard of delicate yet integrally strong light. It beams down in adjusting melody as refractions and reflections glisten on the nearby framework. The floor opens out in the form of horn like blasts on deep and wholesome instruments. A repeating flicker of sonic clarity forms spectral objects in the corners of the mist, and a swoosh of undersound gives a shimmering feel to the whole adventure. Spirits Of Fallen raises the skeletons of the past and allows them to look around and examine what their hard work led up to. Are they satisfied?
More spectral melody casts its spell over us for the next instalment. Crumbled piano keys in frantic yet gracefully intricate strokes build an ever growing rolling hills horizon before us, closer notes drone with head massaging resonance much in the way natural beauty can do. Weighs In Passing, a sombre yet peaceful number. A faraway fire burns brightly, vivid licks of orange and red bring luminescent colour to the grainy image built in sound. It peels away into quiet until the next track starts a new journey. Tubular whines along with pitter-patter percussives build a circular space for us, filled with tangents of glowing sound. Looping melody builds to form clear patterns in the commotion while swelling amplitudes froth and overflow into each others' path. Build-up and progression form an ascent into new layers of sonic experiment and then sudden chapters of tone reveal even more facias to the slowly illuminated presence.
The album ends on Cure Yourself And Groove. This track, unlike the others, makes use of a highly catchy rhythm for us to dance to. With the same quality of sound mastery, Chris Mitchell brings us a track that shows us what can be done when you mix his music with something funky. Maybe a clue for all his DJ buddies or just another spanner in his toolbox, the new direction and cultural definition works as well as the ambient and dreamy material. It moves well enough as an album to keep us entertained while showing us a more delicate side to the electronic music scene. Discovering sweeping landscapes of sonic geography with ever changing directions of adjusted waveform is what it is all about.
The album will be available from XCPT on Bandcamp
Find music by Chris Mitchell on Bandcamp
Follow Chris Mitchell on Facebook
Rowan Blair Colver for the Homunculus Media Group
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