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Monday, January 31, 2011

Tapage & Meander - "Etched In Salt"

Artist: Tapage & Meander
Album: Etched in Salt
Year: 2010
Label: Tympanik
Genre: IDM
this release on discogs: here



This is the third release on Tympanik from Tapage. This time it's a collaboration between Tapage and Meander (whom you may know as NL Hardcore giant Ophidian). They seem to have a history of collaborating, and you may have heard their recent track 'Jelly Battleship' on the last Emerging Organisms comp from Tympanik. The debut from Tapage did absolutely nothing for me, but I actually find myself quite liking this one. This is an interesting release, and one that is rather difficult to easily categorize. It is definitely IDM, but it's more than that. It's very upbeat and whimsical; some parts have these rave-type synths, and although it doesn't have the 8bit sound, parts of it remind me of the atmosphere/mood of chiptune, or maybe just video games in general (I mean this in a positive way).

Good stuff:
+ Great sounds. Lots of weird and interesting percussive sounds; a diverse palate of synth sounds; solid, weighty drum hits; great pads. A combination of almost rave/techno synths; beeping, occasionally slightly sombre melodies; huge lush pads; and surging rhythms.
 + Dynamic tracks. The tracks have different parts to them and evolve / devolve as they flow. Love the very fluid way that they mix ambient sections into the upbeat IDM tracks.
+ Atmosphere. There seem to be a decent amount of references to water here, from the cd art to the titles, and this album, to me, has an atmosphere similar to a water stage in a classic video game. What I mean is that it has sort of this dreamlike mood...you're standing in a fantasy 32bit city with bright skies above, the gently breeze and clear water all around. Like one of those stages in the Mega Man X series where you ride a jet ski thing. It's good, the album really takes you someplace.
+ While most of the album is upbeat, the slower stuff like 'Osedax' and 'Abyssal Plain' really appeal to me. They have more space in them to allow you to digest the myriad sounds and textures. I kinda wish they did more like this.
+ As per typical tympanik protocol, this has solid production and mixing.

Bad stuff:
- Some of the sounds start to get repetitive, especially the hats and steady percussive elements. Since almost all the tracks are fast there is a lot of time spent hearing these sounds, and I kind of get bored with them after a few songs.

Well, honestly some of the stuff here is not to my taste because it's so upbeat and quirky. It's pretty similar to Fractional in that aspect. However, I can see that these guys have a lot of talent and this is indeed a very well crafted and produced release. Even if some tracks aren't really my thing, I can't see (m)any flaws in them. If you like lighter, "happier" melodic IDM with great atmosphere (sorta similar to Ilkae or Ochre)  than this is a must buy. The more I listen to it the more I like it.

Overall Rating:

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