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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Quick Looks - 5/30/12

Fractured Transmission - "A Willing Suspension of Disbelief"

A Willing Suspension of Disbelief is the new power noise album from Fractured Transmission (who also released with Signifier under the moniker NXV). To be perfectly honest, this album is a great example of why power noise is over. Pretty much every track is nothing more than simplistic, unrelentingly repetitive distorted beats, and is limited/compressed so much that it has zero dynamics and is painful to listen to. Now, this sound may have been moderately notable had it been released in 1994, but in 2012 with all the amazing technology available (not to mention tons of other great and shitty power noise records to hear & study, and countless ways to improve upon the genre), we should expect a little more than a drum machine playing 3 or 4 loops run through distortion and limited to fuck all. To be fair, Fractured Transmission does have a good heavy & mechanical sound, his beats are certainly hard, and the distortion sounds great for the style - occasionally carrying a very WASTE-esque sound. However, the sounds quickly loose their appeal after you've heard precious few mutations of a single loop for a minute and a half straight with nothing else happening. The thing that made acts like Imminent Starvation and Converter great was that they combined huge, crunchy beats with ambiance / various noises / melodic sounds to provide some kind of context and atmosphere to supplement the crushing percussion. They also had a decent variety of song styles ranging from harder and faster to slower and more atmospheric. FT tries this towards the end with "Cyclic",which is slower and has a pad, but falls victim to the same plagues as the rest of the album: it's still way too simplistic & repetitive, and it lacks any kind of build or fluctuation. Fractured Transmission has the beats down, now he needs to focus on improving the composition and variety in his tracks to provide something more exciting than basic, straight forward power noise which the world has grown weary of some time ago.

We also got a whole bunch of stuff from Belgian netlabel Xtraplex which specializes in old school IDM-y stuff with dub, ambient, and etc influence. All of the releases are free / pay what you want. Here are a few that I've had the time to spend with so far:

Olkin Donder - "Oben Glex"

Interesting IDM-y release, and the best I have heard from Xtraplex so far. Lots of cool, weird sounds which remind me of good old school IDM mixed with some newer stuff. Kind of a weird mix of Chris Clark, Boards of Canada, Sonmi451 and Xhale. Weird broken, clicky beats mesh with beautiful, lush, and dreamy soundscapes. A solid mixture of challenging and pretty. This formula isn't new, but this record definitely stands out amongst the new crop of netlabel IDM. He has a fairly unique sound that I think will be quite accessible to most fans of the genre. Highly recommended, and definitely a must get for fans of Miasmah, Monotonik, Crazy Language, etc.

Sluggart - "Languish"

Kind of similar to the above record, but with dubtep influence. Seems like dubstep is the ubiquitous companion of IDM today as acid techno was in the 90s. Anyway, again really big, lush atmospherics over the big kick & snare and shuffle beat of slower, heavier dubstep. Some great atypical melodies, 80s analog sfx, and noises permeate the record. A rather short album overall, but a number of good ideas on display. Less grabbing and certainly not as polished as Olkin Donder; this one will appeal to IDM/dubs crossover fans for sure, but it's not going to make any top 10 lists. Still, for the price it's worth checking out. I feel like fans of the dubstep sound will dig this more than I did.

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