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Friday, May 15, 2009

Aphorism - 'Surge'

Artist: Aphorism
Album: Surge
Year: 2009
Label: Tympanik Audio
Genre: IDM
Website: http://www.ap5m.com

Packaging: 4/10
1 Fold digipak, close-up pictures of water on all four panels. The pictures are really cool and crisp, but the music doesn’t seem to have anything to do with water. Not much infos inside.

Composition: 4/10
‘Surge’ starts off really slowly, the first two tracks are pretty much just a beat for 5 minutes with some clicks and pops and very few other things throw in. Things get a little better on track 3 “Covert/Convert” because Aphorism figures out that other elements like pads and melody are sort of important, although he employs the service of too little of either. I love ambient idm because of the use of huge evolving lush pads and atypical melodies that transport me into the dreams of a computer…but with ‘Surge’ I feel nothing.

For the most part this album simply sounds like very boring, under-developed IDM. There are a few nice, albeit thin, pads and even fewer interesting melodies, but most of the songs are bland, straightforward, and forgettable. Aphorism relies much too heavily on beats to carry his songs, and while his beats are indeed interesting, they alone are definitely not enough to complete a “song”. I mean shit, half the tracks take no less than 2 minutes before something significant comes in (aside from the beat, and assuming something significant appears in the song). There are a few tracks of some interest, such as “Chrysanthemums for Carrion” which mixes in acoustic guitar with good results, although its basically the same thing for 6 minutes, and “Two Sides of the Bullet” which features a speech from Martin Luther King Jr which is new and exciting. But even though some songs have some interesting elements within them, in the giant ocean of IDM these are still pretty small fish which could get eaten at any moment by a very high number of larger fish.

Production: 8/10
‘Surge’ has pretty competent production. The levels and so forth are as they should be. Most of my favorite IDM was from the mid 90s to early 00s and had sort of a gritty sound due to using hardware drum machines, samplers and analog outboard gear. ‘Surge’ has a little of that vibe combined a newer more digital vibe. It works pretty well although some some of the drums sound a little thin and digital. For the most part the production works well for this type of IDM.

Artistic Merit: 2/10
This is where this album really fails. If you don’t know what IDM is and you’ve never heard of Warp records or Planet Mu than you might find this record to be a little weird or different. However IDM has been around for almost 20 years, and this record is pretty weak compared to what the bigger, established names (and many of the not-so-big names) of the genre have been putting out for years. If you’re familiar with IDM than you will have heard everything on this record a hundred times before, done in more interesting and more innovative ways.

Flow: 7/10
The whole CD sounds pretty cohesive, but there are a lot of times where tracks seem to randomly stop for some reason and something really quiet is happening, and then after a bit the track kicks back in. I feel that this detracts from the flow of the songs.

Overall Rating: 4/10
This sounds like a “my first experience with IDM” record. If you’re totally new to the style than this might impress you a little bit, but if you know what IDM stands for than you probably don’t need this in your collection. Aphorism has an ok sound, and a penchant for making clicky IDM beats, but he really needs to work on developing his songs into just that…songs: pieces of music with progression and depth. Preferably songs that stick out from the heaping mounds of unmemorable IDM.

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