Thursday, November 27, 2008

Anders Ilar "Sworn"

Artist: Anders Ilar
Album: Sworn
Label: Level
Release date: 9 May 2008
Genre: Electronic
Style: Techno
RIYL: Efdemin, Ellen Allien, Isolée

01. Hillside
02. Colors Of Rain
03. Icarus & Pegasus
04. September Nights
05. Made For Us To Love
06. Imaginary Trees With Silver Leaves
07. Tomorrow Never Came
08. Can't Force A Tree To Grow
09. Path To The Sky
10. Brokenhearted
11. Lakeside
Total running time: 78' 22"

[Anders Ilar - Open MySpace page]

"Minimal techno albums have a propensity for using nearly the entire available 80 minute runtime of the compact disc. Deep immersion is a prerequisite to fully appreciating the nuances of a meticulously wrought, long-form minimal groove. But the beauty of minimal is its versatility; use it for background music and it polishes a room’s atmosphere to the icy, Teutonic cool of a Berlin nightclub; coil up with some headphones and a comfortable chair and you fall into it like a dream; and of all the musical idioms regarded as synergistic with drugs, minimal techno is the most unsung.

An on-form Anders Ilar metes out 79 minutes of wan, hyperborean micro-tech and svelte minimal in his latest full length, his fifth, Sworn. The first track, Hillside, sets the tone with melancholy, pelagic strings floating dreamily above a deep bass hook and a mid tempo 4/4 kick drum. A seesawing processed keyboard loop lolls into the spectral reverberating ether. Delay-soaked bleeps stutter sublimely in phase with the beat but at slightly unstable intervals. Eight minutes passes too fast. Colors of Rain, the second track, evocatively and aptly titled, mines similar territory but is busier with flickers of snare drum and hi-hat fulgurating in counterpoint to an epic, meandering, minor key keyboard solo that slips into different tonal shades courtesy of minutely shifting filter envelopes. The attention to detail Ilar exerts on tracks like this is staggering, following the lively percussion around the keyboard and pulses of bass is a demanding task. Icarus and Pegasus recalls Martes era Murcof. A ghostly piano refrain sweeps through the track; notes slur and tug on each other, teasing your ears with their peculiar texture, and land slightly off the timing of the clinical beat. Low in the mix but streaked with reverb are synth tracers flying through a hooky coda and glitching out. Sampled 50s dialogue dissolving in soft static conveys you to the album’s crucial fourth track, September Nights. Muted, crackling spangles of feedback garnish this sweet emotive pair of bass and synth loops that play lambently back and forth. It’s the most minimal track on the album and it’s my personal favorite. When the liquid piano comes in its ping pong delayed patter wobbles like a little wave and will thrill anyone infatuated with Pantha du Prince’s recent album on Dial. September Nights is unaccountably expressive; it feels sad but hopeful, sort of recalling the downcast euphoria that Burial shot for with Untrue. Absolutely timeless.

This expressiveness unfolds like a silent narrative throughout the album. On Imaginary Trees, the sixth track, Ilar redeploys some more beautiful twining keyboard and jumps between major and minor keys with the clarion rattle of an electronically stretched hi-hat mediating and oozing the first wintry isolation and then cool vernal shade. The last three songs, Path to the Sky, Brokenhearted and Lakeside, are a departure from the musical paradigm of the previous eight. Brokenhearted is a straightforward piece of sinuous house, its mix is a little weaker than the rest of Sworn but it eschews the direct and obvious payoff of a blinding melodic hook for a complex weave of texture and rhythm that gradually gains currency with listens. Lakeside would be at home on a pop ambient compilation with its dense sonic gauze but tacks away from the Kompakt aesthetic with a propulsive Detroit bass and vaguely menacing synths. Masterfully executed." [experimusic]


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