Disintegration State Records
TBR: 14th February
Disintegration State kick off another dystopian year of gloom and hope. Regular artist Ghost Halo is first on the 2020 bill with a record of polarities. For some 2020 is a glorious year, filled with new beginnings and stable fortunes. For others it's another downward spiral into disillusionment and disarray. Does it depend on how you look at it or does it depend on how it looks at you? For the Electro Review, readers can be safe assured that we will continue to be a light in dark corners where the best of the underground electronic music scene is delivered for all, whether you can afford to donate or not. We know you're all equal and you're all welcome here.
It opens with a swelling of static nurtured with deep tone. Airy atmospheric pads sparkle in the distance and grow to fractal like wisps in gently moving sound tendrils. The music builds in gradual flow, like the smouldering of embers scattered in dry leaves. An n sprawls out as a new synth distils the static. Then, a short chime melody on poignant bells breaks open a new chapter. Rhythm leans in, splashy and scattered beats meld in flames left over. More original shifts in direction follow as the feeling of the beginning phrases once again work into the mix. Floating Body is a spacious and expansive track, layered with interesting sonography.
NYC Ecstasy Comedown again brings itself in with a static warmth. Then what sounds like a mangled guitar begins strumming a simple beat. Kinetic chords build up with a shaker rhythm, decorated with tinkling metal-work. A vocal sample asks if we know where dreams come from. Our pineal gland has optical sensors in it, so I like to think they come from there. More stringed notes add layers of melody as the rhythm progresses with additions of flowing percussion. A smooth beat washes like waves through the music until we realise it's moving traffic.
Next a deep chiming bass meets house style drums that tap on light surfaces. The melody progresses until odd angular harmonics are added, giving everything a synthetic feel. Repeating phrases of digitised bell work their way forward, providing leverage fore another layer of movement. A vocal sample says something, too distorted to tell, and rhythm is added bar by bar. The solid bas-line keeps time while abstract samples revolve around temporal foci. A dynamo of Velcro scratches slinks underneath while up-drafts of melody and percussion keep the sounds fluttering above. Fractal Headroom makes links to consciousness through repeatable formulae.
With slow tuneful pulses, Carcosa begins. Winding notes of string and synth creep in distinctive alcoves knitted from loose and expressive sound. Gradual progressive bars build like drifting snow across stout dry stone walls. Odd percussive clangs then fill an off-beat void while dreamy motions of composed flux merge into whisperings and solemn tones.
Next, a minimal beat strikes a slightly quicker tempo. Bass bounces and echoes through a forest which grows from voices planted in the astral bed. Whistling tones strike violin like pitches which skate in upward spirals towards the unreachable sky. Odd vocal rhythms and airy sounds mingle like shoaling fishes in icy pools, touched by the deathly finger of winter. Where brown leaves glide in downward swoops across open meadows, birds flutter in half-built nests within Stripped Trees.
It's the sixth track and we find ourselves in Salem. Eerie synths portray a desolate scene as variant stabs and sticks make odd drumming, almost timeless, as part of a larger whole. Solitary trees rattle in windy evenings as magic fingers up through the floorboards. A slightly more heavenly harmonic emerges from the phantasmagoria as unhurried percussion forms overhead.
A characterful tone springs to life as we hit the next number. Alluring beats are laid down in a smooth as ice fashion as a funky edge to the chords livens up the mood. Rattling drums and distinctive sound-effects briskly journey through mirrors and symmetry. A tonic of loop and melody unravels and shifts along its line of progression. Patterns and colour schemes adapt and repeat while the outer realms swirl and mist beneath forlorn motifs. The Yellow King is a relaxing wander through sound, with attractive choices in the electronics making it extra special.
Emma's Dream opens out with a flower of chiming loops, additional elements form around and underneath to produce an aroma of sonics. Shifting bass coils like ivy around an old stump while lights of colourful sound twinkle and shine. The rhythm works like footsteps that traverse through knotty bass-line organics which grow into shoots of digital manifestation. A continual energy of mystery permeates the music until it fades.
Strange voices begin the new track. A slowly vibrating synth shimmers with miraging tones as a windy bass howls over resonant crags. Another heavier layer of melody joins in and it's carried by percussive build-up. This formulates on neat hat-strikes and steady kick. Joyous piano-bell tones dance like light reflecting from crystal as marimba like chimes resonate around its axis. Empire Of Light sounds like a relaxing place, maybe we'll need our sunglasses while there.
Next, a downpour of Chemical Rain opens the title track of the album. Uplifting chords work behind curtains of deep body-rich bass drum. A tin strike provides another dimension of rhythm, new areas open for exploration. A garbled sample sings odd words across the taught weft of sound, a build-up ensues as rhythm and synth swirl together in motions of attracting dance. Extra effects are added to the sample as it mutates and distorts across angular contours. The music breaks down to a bass and drum, then piece by piece the rest finds its way again. A leftfield sense to this track gives it an accessibility many will feel at home with.
A melodic rhythm comes next, chimes and conks work together along with a stringed riff which could be some kind of harp. Harmonising tones reverberate through the grids of sound as various constituents glisten and warp on their buoyant surfaces. Whistled notes worm around the framework in graceful gestures until all is boiled down to high energy static. The Gods Are All Human, or are they?
Converge takes place after, it opens on a wavery electronic beam which migrates into a howling wind. Guitar notes pluck a delicate melody through the wispy sonic, a folk edge brings about a feeling of warm fires and friendly faces. Warm beacons of sound radiate through thick atmospheres of calming infusion. Things settle down to a solitary tone which moves up and down in slow paced transformations of pitch. Crackling rain of digital static fizzes within window frames neatly positioned among the stereoscopic production.
Drums and synth add a dualistic layer of sound, vocals say something out loud like “get up” or “get em”, then strange tones waft and haze in streaks of musical intention. Bowed strings sweep from side to side as vocals craft harmonies and sounds with expressive phonics. Psyop is a short number, which prepares us for Murder Witness as the next track. Wholesome synthesiser works alongside two-step drumming to bring on a dance feel wroughted by ambience. Breathy zones and steady pace-work sink down into comfy postures as various phrases and melodies volute in timed sections. The merging of melodies brings out a hypnotic and joyous sensation which rides on the steady persistence of the drum structure.
Choral busts of ghostly presence unveil for the penultimate number. Vinyl static grinds like magnified dust on the tip of a needle as slow moving tones swirl in gusts of viscous geography. Bayonets of amplitude bring the music to various boiling points with jab ever so slightly until the background hum once more over-senses the ears. Abstract sounds creep in like distorted telephone chatter, instructions or affirmations sprinkle long forgotten verbal data that by now has decayed into garblings of expired intention. The Alphabet City Killings has a dark and sinister edge yet glimmers in promising directions.
Drums begin American Winter. Simple interjections of percussive sound build around a slow moving tone which hums and sings across a splash of harmony. The drums progress, new sections of percussion grab holds in the spacious wall of capacity. Extra tones find their way in layers of calm while the presence of rhythm continues to build in with a sophisticated kismet. Gentle washes of vocal make swaying signals through the pressure of simmering drums and coining projections. The voice about dreams returns, reminding us of the beginning of this immaculate and munificent offering of an album.
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Rowan Blair Colver for The Electro Review.