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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Normotone - "Inward Structures"

Artist: Normotone
Album: Inward Structures
Year: 2011
Label: Tympanik 
Genre: IDM, Electronica
Website: www.tympanikaudio.com
this album on discogs: here



This is the debut album from Bruno Laborde's Normotone moniker. Apparently he has been involved in other projects such as Neon Cage Experiment. "Inward Structures" is a mixture of complex, clicky, IDM
; organic atmospheres & melody; vocals; emotive, post rock sentiments, and a healthy dose of chaos & uncertainty.

Good stuff:
+ The album opens up with "Some Few Words" which is a harbinger of what is to come. It begins with a nice, highly organic ambient section which slowly introduces glitchy elements until a beat surfaces and things start to plod along before it takes a turn towards chaotic IDM and a final descent into a long ambient outro. This track sets the tone of this album, as it introduces most of the elements you will be hearing for the next 12 tracks.
+ The sound design is good. There are a number of beautiful melodies and emotionally driven atmospheres presented here. The large assortment of percussive sounds and sound effects are typically well done while never becoming repetitive or rehashed, and Normotone does a solid job of fusing the synthetic idm-ish beats with the earthly synthlines. There is even some pleasant sounding acoustic guitar on a couple of tracks. I can definitely see why Tympanik was interested in this.
+ You can't say this record lacks diversity! Each piece flirts with multiple genres, and has a plethora of stuff going on within it, typically with several distinct sections. There are extremely glitchy IDM songs, mellow IDM numbers, even a couple of slow vocal ballads. A number of the tracks contain vocals, though each time they are provided by a different vocalist - adding further diversity.
+ Normotone is at his best when he is making tracks like "Forms and Functions" which features a steady, driving beat accented by numerous glitches & distorted sounds complimenting n elegant melody. Unfortunately, it descends into an abyss of utter madness at the end, but oh well.

Bad stuff:
- The biggest flaw here is the composition. While the sounds are primarily good, the tracks typically lack flow and cohesion. A good bit of this record sounds like a tornado of random noises layered on top of each other with no driving force or purpose to guide it somewhere.
- The male vocals never seem to fit with the tracks in my opinion. Most of them are basically spoken word, and seem overly bland in harsh contrast with the active music.
 - The mixing on this album is frequently rather awkward and jarring. Certain sounds (typically distorted hits of some kind) will be much too loud, stick out annoyingly, and feel very abrasive. In some songs the drums will be too up front and drown out all the melodic content, but then in others the drums will be too far back in the mix. 

"Inward Structures" is a mixed bag for me. At times it sounds like a very organic version of the recent Access to Arasaka full length "void();" - with layer upon layer of sound swirling about in utter chaos with lack of solid form. At other times it sounds like straight forward emotional IDM with a touch of post-rock influence. There are many excellent elements utilized here, but the overall composition is inconsistent and does not retain my attention. While there are many things that happen during this record, too much of it feels absolutely sporadic and incoherent, and as a result I don't want to bother listening to it. If Normotone could work on the lackluster mixing and creating steady, driving elements (percussion, melodies) to glue these tracks together and give them a sense of direction, he could make some amazing music.
There are two remixes here, the first is a boring thing by Polygon which features neat auto-tuned vocals which don't fit with the bland music at all. The second remix comes from One Droid And Its Man, and it is a droning piece which meanders along slowly, complimented by slow, brooding drum hits.  This feels kind of like some of the post rock stuff coming from N5MD, and though it's kind of boring and repetitive, it's not bad.

Overall Rating: 5.5/10

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