Genre: Technoid, Tribal, Industrial
this album on discogs: here
"Desert" is the new release from Ex_Tension and the second one this year, following a recent release on Signifier. Similar to that record, this is a re-release of old material; this one is re-mastered with 2 bonus tracks and 5 additional remixes. For some reason the remixes are all consolidated into one track (I guess to mirror the lengthy title track). After a fairly strong release on Signifier and a great track on the "These Sounds Must Meet.." compilation, I was quite looking forward to this album. However, it failed to meet my expectations.
+ The remixes are quite good and vastly better than the original piece. They do a good job of utilizing elements from 'Desert', yet transmuting them into something far more interesting that successfully engages and entertains the listener. Access to Arasaka does a brilliant job of diving into glitchy idm territory that brings to mind a cyberpunk outpost in a desert wasteland; Totakeke infuses the best aspects of his complex technoid style with the tribal overtones of the original; Zentriert Ins Antlitz provides their psychedelic ambient stylings with something similar to their album on Tympanik, but with a driving beat; and Geomatic provides a great mix thickly laden with their trademark futuristic, space alien tribal sound. I really wish these mixes had been given separate tracks, but I will give Ex_tension the benefit of the doubt and assume there was some artistic reason for combing them into one 23 minute piece.
- Pretty much everything else. I know that this is a re-release, and it is sadly quite evident that these tracks are older material: they feel very amateur. There are fleeting moments of lucidity in the form of good sound design or percussion or melody, but overall these tracks feel lackluster and directionless. It's as if Ex_Tension didn't quite know what they wanted to do with themselves, or perhaps simply didn't know how to take themselves to the place they wanted to be. To be honest, these feel like old b-sides, and not particularly worthy of a new album (or release at all). The opener, 'Desert', is an astounding 31 minutes in length, and despite this enormous duration, it never really does anything worth writing home about. It is very slow moving and overly minimal; none of the many sections catch or retain my attention. It is not until almost 20 minutes in that a steady beat kicks in and I start to care, but by that point it is far too late. The mixing is sloppy and the composition is mediocre at best, with long periods of completely languid sections. The other three tracks are varying degrees of bland. They simply plod along without offering any catchy/memorable melodies or driving percussive sections to catch the listener's ear. They offer the occasional decent pad for atmosphere, but that alone cannot carry these tracks. The production is muddy and the composition flimsy.
Weak, disposable original tracks that are overshadowed by some solid remixes. If you can purchase the remix tracks on their own, I would suggest doing so, but don't bother with the full album. If you are looking for a much better technoid/tribal hybrid record than check out their recent release "Freedom" on Signifier...or just get a This Morn Omina album.