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Friday, December 3, 2010

Undermathic - "10:10pm"

Artist: Undermathic
Album: 10:10pm
Year: 2010
Label: Tympanik
Genre: Electro, Ambient, IDM
Website: www.undermathic.com


This is the second full length from Undermathic. To be honest, the first one did nothing for me; it didn’t keep my attention and few, if any of the tracks were, in my opinion, memorable at all. However, I am happy to say that this album is an improvement. It’s got a grandiose futuristic electro vibe to it, fairly similar to Oil 10.

Good stuff:
+ Synths. The first thing I noticed about 10:10pm is how gorgeous the synths are. Lots of huge, cinematic pads, hauntingly beautiful melodies and beep-y rhythms. The vibe here is more cinematic electro rather than IDM or industrial, and he is able to pull it off quite convincingly. The colossal pads get quite a bit of facetime and are very worthy of the term ‘epic’.
+ Atmospheric. When I heard the first Undermathic album, I don’t recall myself thinking about how interesting/good/unique the atmosphere was. However, on 10:10pm he has gotten much better about painting vivid scenes with sound. It is easy and pleasant to close your eyes and get lost in the world conjured by tracks. They feel a bit like various scenes from somber, albeit beautiful, future cities.
+ The first 4 tracks. Man, the first four tracks on this album are good and I keep returning to them. Great sounds, ebb and flow within the track, decent amount of intricacy and development as the tracks runs their respective courses.
+ Production. The mixing here is quite good, everything stands out, is loud, and can be heard very clearly. The synths and drums all sound great, very weighty and full sounding with some space to let each element breath.

Bad stuff:
- Consistency/Annoyance. While the album starts off strong, it falls into a major slump halfway through. Undermathic starts to use these really annoying sounds that dominate the tracks and cause me to lose interest quickly. The extremely cheesy 8-bit stuff (sounds like fucking Bubble Bobble!) on ‘Alternative Timelines’, the loud, never-ending static shit on ‘Saiph’ and that beeping noise on “10:10pm” being the best examples. I have to skip these.
- Repetition. I love most of the synths he uses on this album, but perhaps that is because the same types of sounds appear in almost every single track. The pads start to become indistinguishable from one another, similar melodies and beeping rhythmic synths also make an appearance in every track.  It feels like he had some really good ideas at first and made some great tracks (the first 4) and then tried to replicate and recycle them for the other tracks, though oddly with seemingly less effort, with poor results.
- Drums. One major issue I have with the album is the drums. They’ve got a good electro sound, but they are extremely under-utilized. He has good drums in “Big City Nights” and then I guess he put the drum kit away. For pretty much every other track the percussion is just sort of the same thing over and over throughout the respective track and is neither driving nor particularly intricate. They add a much needed rhythmic layer, though I think they could have been used quite a bit more effectively to drive the tracks along. For example, in “I Remember” there are simply high hats, repeating the same exact rhythm…for 8 minutes straight. Srsly, wtf
- Production. I said above that the production is good, and yes, the mixing is quite good. However, this album is squashed to hell. To give you the effect, IT IS LIKE IF I HAD TYPED THE WHOLE REVIEW LIKE THIS. There is no dynamic range, the regular parts are loud as hell and the “quiet” parts are still loud as hell. I can sometimes ignore a squashed recording, but it is so prominent here that I had to include it.

10:10pm starts off with a bang (the first 4 tracks are solid, “Big City Nights” being the pinnacle), falls apart in the middle (the next 4 are skip-worthy), and sort of rebounds at the end (the final 3 are ok). It has moments of grandeur, but still feels, as a whole, sparse and undeveloped, with much greatness still to harness. If Undermathic could add some more diversity into his songs, especially on the rhythmic side, and not try to reproduce a few good ideas over and over he could be a very noteworthy producer. As it stands, most of this album is spent thinking I’d rather listen to the Oil 10 track “Lost in Metropolis”.

Overall Rating:

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