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Friday, July 22, 2011

Grauraum - "Shades"

Artist: Grauraum
Album: Shades
Year: 2011
Label: Raumklang Music
Genre: IDM, Ambient
Website:  www.raumklang-music.de
this album on discogs: here



Grauraum is the new moniker of idm/ambient producer Hotaru Bay, who released an album on Raumklang Music last year. I'm not sure what prompted the name change, but the music of the two projects is fairly similar. I would say that Grauraum is a bit more towards the "ambient" part of IDM/Ambient. Musically though, "Shades" is full of lush pads, nice melodic elements and driving, clicky/glitchy percussion. 

Good stuff:
+ Good sounds. I like the choice of sounds here: the pads are mostly very thick and "cool" sounding (not quite warm, but not quite stark or cold); the melodies, when used, are very catchy, pretty and and well done; and the percussive elements are what I really like in IDM: that choppy, clicky sound with some glitching to keep it interesting. There is a diverse enough palate of sounds to keep you interesting throughout the album, yet he is able to maintain enough consistency between tracks to give it a personal sound (it's similar to Hotaru Bay, yet different enough to warrant a new name, I suppose.)
+ Dark/Industrial tinge. One thing I really like about "Shades" is that leans more towards industrial and is darker and a bit "harsher" than a lot of idm/ambient releases. Some of the beats are slightly crunch-ified and distorted, though never abrasive or noisey. It reminds me a little of less glitchy Access to Arasaka or a more cyberpunk version of Planet Boelex.
+ Pretty good production. In general, the production is solid here; all the elements sound good and fit in with one other, everything has its own space. The beats sound great, they're thick and they punch through.
+ The LPF12 remix, despite being 17 minutes long(!!) is really good. The synths sound very much like Access to Arasaka when he is doing ambient-ish material.  LPF12 carries over a lot of the sounds from the original, but encapsulates them in a darker, more brooding shell. Kind of dark futuristic (cyberpunk), glitchy ambient. This track is actually interesting enough to keep your attention for 10+ minutes, despite the minimal use of percussion.

Bad stuff:
- My main critique is that the production is a little lopsided, and often the beats take precedence and drown out some of the synth work. Some of the ambient parts, such as most of 'The Sleep Pt 2' are much quieter than the parts with beats and it feels a little uneven.
- No real standout elements.

Overall, "Shades" is a competent IDM/Ambient release, but offers little to differentiate itself from the large pack of similar artists. Fans of the style will no doubt enjoy these tracks, but unfortunately it won't really stand out from most of the other IDM/Ambient you own. If you are interested in the darker, slightly more "industrial" side of IDM than I would encourage you to give this a listen. For fans of early Bitcrush, Stendeck, Atmogat, etc

Overall Rating:

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