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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tapage - "Eight"

Artist: Tapage
Album: Eight
Year: 2014
Label: Ad Noiseam
Genre: IDM, Downtempo, Trip Hop
Website:  www.adnoiseam.net/

On this record we see Tapage continuing with a concept he began on previous release Seven; an exercise where all the tracks are the same length and tempo. On Eight, all the songs are exactly 8 minutes long and were written at 80bpm. According to the press release: "Eight is a carefully planned and executed work which shows that one can combine a theory and a sharp artistic depth." I can definitely get behind that.

Right off the bat I feel that this is my favorite stuff that Tapage has created. His previous material was always a bit too, I guess, "abstract" for me to get into (someone compared it to Aphex Twin and I felt that was pretty fitting - music of such a highbrow & difficult to decipher stature that I could appreciate on some level but did not actually enjoy listening to), however Eight feels more cohesive and contained, such that it feels "musical" and approachable. It's apparent that he has moved away from the glitchy IDM of past records and has gravitated towards a more emotional, organic, trip hop-esque downtempo/breakbeat sound that retains the complexity and unpredictability of his past work. One of the interesting aspects of this release is that forcing all compositions to reach 8 minutes requires the musician to include many different sections and pieces into each track so as to keep it captivating for its duration.To this end, Tapage does a fantastic job of crafting enough components and skillfully intermixing them to keep each track fresh throughout it's entire duration. Every song guides you through various aural territories between it's beginning and finale. The opener "One of Eight" strikes me as a very Hymen-esque track - groovy breakbeats and catchy melodies and nonlinear structure. To me this feels like a very evolved (and perhaps slower) version of "breakbeat" music. The second track "Two of Eight" really grabs me as well. We hear him combining field recordings and that, as I refer to it, "headphone commute" style ambiance with steady percussion and beautiful female vocals. The soft melodies and organic pads give this track such a warm and "human" feel. It's hard to describe but I guess to say it's the opposite of unfeeling, computer-y IDM (which I also enjoy, for different reasons). "Three of Eight" begins with a bizarre, almost mutant southern folk vibe before picking up into an compelling mixture of the previous track and some bits from the typical Tapage sound palette. The rest of the album continues on in this manner and continues to toy with and transmute melancholic downtempo moods. It all gives me sort of a late summer/fall outdoors vibe with a romantically sad undercurrent - kinda reminds me of Ametsub or Ab Ovo, mixed with your trip hop of choice. I am glad that vocals appear on many of the tracks, as each time they sound wonderful and fit well into the piece (the only one I was unsure about was their use in "Seven of Eight" - at times I felt that they didn't mesh with the other elements, but even so, it's a pretty good track).

A departure from his previous sound, but I personally find it very attractive. Tapage does a surperb job at mixing the various styles on display here and ultimately crafts something quite memorable and forward-thinking. Definitely something to check out for people who want to hear a producer take that 90s Trip Hop vibe to the next level with multifarious programming and intelligent song writing.

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