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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Integral - "The Past Is My Shadow"

Artist: Integral
Album: The Past Is My Shadow
Year: 2011
Label: Tympanik 
Genre: IDM, Cinematic, Modern Classical
Website: www.tympanikaudio.com
this album on discogs: here


"The Past Is My Shadow" is the new 2xCD release from IDM act Integral. Their debut album "Rise" is absolutely fantastic and I have been long awaiting this release (it's been 3 years since the debut). Apparently this album is made up of various older works by the duo. At first, this premise lends one to believe the potential for success to be low ("oh boy, a bunch of demos"), but thankfully, this is very much a collection of songs, not simply demos nor rough works, that is more than worthy of full release.

Good stuff: 

CD 1
+ I was quite surprised when I popped in this disc, as it sounds absolutely nothing like their debut. Instead of IDM/ambient, this disc is more akin to a film score with IDM influence. It opens up with guitar and pads that remind me of a modern film noir. This style continues on throughout the disc, and while this is certainly not my preferred genre, this is no denying the immense talents of this act. They are able to build tracks that are monumentally interesting and complex. Everything on this disc has an organic vibe to it, likely from the emphasis on traditional instruments - including the aforementioned guitar, violin, strings, and piano. There are beats in these tracks which, for the most part, are somewhat subdued to give provenience to the atmospheric and melodic elements; some tracks, however, do contain unrestrained flurries of drum hits. As I mentioned, the entire disc has a very cinematic feel to it, albeit more complex and active than most actual movie scores. There are hints of the Integral style here, and upon knowing the composing artist I can say "yes, that makes sense", however if the producer was unknown I would not immediately credit this to Integral. Definitely interesting to hear them doing something different, and doing it very well I might add. The track lengths vary, though moreso to the long side (6 of the 10 are 7-9 minutes). Despite this, there is never a time on this disc where I feel my attention slipping to other things. Integral achieves a vast feat by being able to deliver continually moving & evolving songs that remain interesting for this long. Fans of Blackfilm and newer Subheim should really enjoy this stuff.

CD 2
+ This disc returns to the IDM style of "Rise". The sounds of bizarre alien jungles and plains return in full force. Morphing organic instrumentation, ethereal melodies, and intricate, clicky percussion make for wonderfully deep moods and beautiful, visionary soundscapes . No human dialogue can accurately describe what I am hearing on this record, you truely need to hear it and be immersed within it. This is what I was really hoping to hear on this album and they delivered. This style doesn't quite sound as developed as it does on "Rise", but the resemblance is undeniable. The complexity, dynamic song structures and clean, full mixing is certainly still there. The use of traditional instruments from disc 1 continues on many of these pieces; you will hear what sounds like violin, piano, and possibly acoustic guitar, though they manage to utilize them in such a way that fit perfectly with the synthetic elements and otherworldly atmosphere. Again, the tracks are generally rather long (6-9 minutes), but they remain captivating throughout and never dull or lacking enough content to fill the duration - in fact it's quite the opposite, every track is absolutely filled to the brim with layer upon layer of cohesive, interesting elements. Integral is one of the most unique IDM acts of the last decade or so, and this CD showcases why. Extremely cerebral, challenging stuff.

Bad stuff:
- Not much here to complain about.

Integral is easily one of the most fascinating and talented IDM acts out there today. You need to own their material. Buy this now. If you don't own "Rise", make sure to pick it up as well.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I'm agree with each word here. This is absolutely amazing album, probably the best idm of this year.