18 August 2009

Astrobotnia - Part 01 / Part 03 [Rephlex]

One thing I know is that Aleksi Perälä likes ring modulators, and so he should! These have got to be two of my favourite electronic music releases and I think part of what makes these so special to me is how I relate my personal experiences and memories to the music. There is also Part 02 on 12" which I am currently trying to track down but first I will explain how I discovered the CDs in the first place.

In 2003 I was in my final year of high school and participated in a music tour to the UK. Around that time I was pretty into AFX so naturally I had become aware of Rephlex. I seem to remember downloading the Astrobotnia sampler from their website. There had been some hype about it at the time but it blew me away regardless and I was left wanting more. The concept of ordering it online hadn't even occurred to me at that stage and there was little chance of finding it in a record store in Perth. So there we all were in Bath, England with an hour or so at our disposal to do as we wish. Passing through a small alley I entered a store that caught my eye (I'm fairly certain it was Drop Records) and much to my delight I walked out with Astrobotnia's Part 01 & Part 03, Aphex Twin's Drukqs and a big smile on my face. I was thoroughly enthused!

I hate to quote the sticker on the front like everybody else but this music really is "an electric brain-dance fantasy; intimate, mystical and futuristic. Don't leave Earth without it." Lightworks is an amazing, ambient opener that perfectly sets the mood for what is to come, and that is LUSH synths, processed field recordings, deep bass tones and an array of retro drum-machine sounds and breakbeats programmed both mildly and wildly, mostly the latter. Hallo and Everyone follow on nicely, introducing more complex drum work and menacing character. Most of the tracks share common elements but each has a distinct atmosphere and feels complete in it's composition. Engaging listening.

Part 03 is my favourite of the two and overall has more edge to it. It is also a bit more complex, with tracks like Drops and Bifidus boasting masterfully executed displays of metric modulation. B and Esther Calling Jennifer are probably my favourite tracks of the whole series, balancing delicately between highly musical and abstract passages all the while developing over a solid groove foundation (not in a traditional dancefloor sense of course but you would catch me losing my shit if I heard it in a club).

What else is there to say? I highly recommend at least giving these a listen if you haven't before. Probably not for everyone, falling squarely into the "IDM" realm, but if you're into any sort of experimental electronic music I suggest you give it a go :)

No comments: