četvrtak, 25. travnja 2013.

Isan - Beautronics (1998)

Jednostavni ritmovi, pop-inficirane melodije ali jako zarazno.
Reizdanje klasičnog albuma analogne elektronike.


Way back in 1998 Isan issued this fresh new template for melodic instrumental electronica. Borrowing ideas from classic Kosmische and the canniest Canterbury pop before it, and offering a frothier option compared to the increasingly complex and austere arrangements of the Skam cabal or Rephlex and Warp-style IDM, 'Beautronics' was, and still is, a triumph of analog subtlety and naif sensitivity and was no less than a staple part of our musical diet at the sadly defunct (but not forgotten) Pelicanneck store from whence the pages you are now reading first started. We likened it to "…if Tangerine Dream had been fed on a diet of marshmallows and jammie dodgers" back then and the sentiment still stands today. If you've ever caught yourself mesmerised by the pastoral bliss of Roedlius or love snuggling up with your favourite Boards Of Canada albums, and you've never heard this record, you really, really owe yourself some time with its radiant charms... - boomkat

It's interesting that this album came out back in 1998, because it draws a very strong resemblence to another very solid IDM release from that year. Also by a duo, Music Has The Right To Children. by Boards Of Canada was a solid and inventive release that jumped from dark to fun and had plenty of quirkiness to boot. As much as I hate to directly compare albums, Beutronics has much of the very same things going for it that made the above mentioned album so damn enjoyable. Not only are the tracks alternately happy and dark, but the duo has put together some very very interesting sounds on what are probably some seriously vintage instruments. There are thick, warm gurgles of electronics that bubble up from the bottom of tracks like ooze from a tarpit and soft, floating sounds that feel like they rode in on the tale of a comet.
Coupled with a penchant for writing short, catchy tracks, this album of 16 tracks (7 of which are called "tint" tracks and act much like short segues between longer pieces, much like the "bolts" on the Black Dog album Spanners). If none of the above makes sense for you, let me explain a bit. The disc starts off with a rich warm buzz on "Vosill" and the track soon has a loping beat that glides along under multiple layers of chirps and a simple, but pretty keyboard melody. The second track on the disc (and one of the above mentioned "tints" ("Tint1 - Barely Barley," actually) runs only about one and a half minutes and is comprised of a wet beat and another simple little melody. It's gone before you know it and then the album is on again.
The album basically continues on like that for its entirety, with never more than two "songs" or two "tints" in a row, it also manages to change things up well and keep sounds fresh. The nice thing about most of the "tints" is that they're really not filler material at all and some of them stand up right alongside the actual longer pieces on the disc. "Tint2- Rosy Apples" scoots along with an almost tribal sounding, hollow beat and droning keyboards and voice samples while "Tint6 - Cheeky Cherry" drops a cut-up kiddy voice sample over a blipped-out beat. The only problem I have with it is that it actually ends too quickly. Throw in the grimy analog sounds (coupled with light electronic pulses) of "Skeek" and the dark atmospherics of "Iam Twisq," and this album is quite a solid release.
If you like Boards Of Canada or even the lighter moments of Autechre, you owe it to yourself to check out this release by ISAN. I feel bad that I've actually seen their name around so long, but took my time in actually getting something of theirs, as it's another very solid IDM release and shows that groups are putting out great stuff that rivals work done on bigger labels like Warp. Now I just need to find some more of their releases. - www.almostcool.org/

Robin Saville and Antony Ryan began experimenting together in 1991, releasing a string of singles on U.K. indie labels such as Wurlitzer Jukebox and Bad Jazz, but by the time of their debut album, Beautronics, the duo maintained their musical relationship long distance -- from separate English towns. Such distance served as little roadblock, however, because isan is at least partly about self-confessed technical ineptitude. The duo utilizes cheap analog equipment as a purposeful restriction on themselves, with the goal of creating modern music that belies its source, and this debut certainly achieves that goal. Beautronics is like a splatter painting of mechanized sounds in which beauty and electronics are inseparable components of the music; in fact, where there is congruence of the two, there are songs. The nature of the music is for the most part ambient, full of simple, wobbly analog synth squiggles and even simpler drumbeats, but the music itself is far from unsophisticated or slight. Although Saville and Ryan would likely cringe at such a notion, their music is sneakily intelligent, full of tonal color and textural skill masked by the apparent sparseness of the songs. Color is, in fact, a large thematic thread on the album; one song, the chirping "Paintchart," crystallizes this theme perfectly. Some of isan's songs could easily accompany a children's TV or puppet show (though it would admittedly have to be a rather warped one), as there is something naïve and wistful about them. Between the songs there are also short sound sketches with titles such as "Tint2-Rosy Apples" and "Tint5-Glittery Disco Blue" that further extend the painterly approach of isan, adding both coloring and depth to the album. At times, the music suggests the bumping together of metals, the eerie whirring of computer control panels, and the apocalyptic screech of sirens, all of which accentuate the fact that humans have already become at least half-machine themselves, at least in spirit. But it is also done in such a manner as to throw suspicion on the whole process, to weaken the seriousness and claustrophobia brought to millennial electronic music trends. Like Autechre, isan doesn't make anything easy for the listener. The music is stripped bare, and left to its own devices, to do its own work. All the hard, carved-out edges remain. There is no slickness, no overcomplication. And that, ironically, makes Beautronics even more of a complex achievement. - Stanton Swihart


Robin Saville and Antony Ryan's releases as isan are characterized by simple rhythms, pop-inflected song structures, and strong, committedly analog melodies. Originally from Reading, England, the duo emerged from the electronica underground in the mid-'90s at a time when groups like Autechre and Aphex Twin were bringing increasing levels of abstraction and disjunction to electronic post-techno. Dodging that approach, isan joined artists such as Solvent, B. Fleischmann, Sweden's Pluxus, and Krautrock-electronica fusionists To Rococo Rot in making their music warm, inviting, and accessible.
Like many of those artists, isan (perhaps inadvertently) drew on the '70s and '80s electronic experiments of Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Jean-Michel Jarre, early new wave, and Another Green World-era Brian Eno. Releases on indie-hybrid labels like Static Caravan, Liquefaction Empire, and Foundary -- among them several limited-edition and hard-to-find 7"s -- earned isan a crossover audience from the start. The group's profile got a boost in 1999 when it contributed a remix of Seefeel's "When Face Was Face" to the Warp label's tenth anniversary release Remixes. Several albums for Morr Music followed, including 2001's Lucky Cat, 2004's Meet Next Life, and 2006's Plans Drawn in Pencil. Saville remained in England and Ryan set up a base in Sweden, although the pair continued to tour and collaborate. A longer gap separated Plans Drawn in Pencil from their followup, 2010's Glow in the Dark Safari Set, although the warm analog melodies of their earlier material remained a staple. - Sean Cooper


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