Review of Sublunar [12k1072]

Textura (CA)

That Kane Ikin is one-half of the duo Solo Andata (Paul Fiocco the other) is the first clue as to what his debut full-length release sounds like. The group is known for its extremely subtle and texturally rich soundscaping, and Ikin’s perpetuates that approach if in slightly different manner. The most obvious difference is simply one of duration: <i>Sublunar</i> features sixteen sketches, none longer than five minutes and most hovering in the two- to four-minute area. A few other surprises emerge over the course of the disc’s run, including the appearance of beats and a pronounced rhythm dimension in general—not the first thing that comes to mind when one hears the words Solo Andata. The project is also self-indulgent but in the positive sense of the word, as it’s a document of Ikin unconstrainedly exploring all of the possibilities at hand and allowing his experiments to go where they naturally will.

Ikin’s stated focus on “(q)uality of the sound, over quality of the sound” is significant in that regard, as the album’s material is less about production techniques and how the tracks were generated and more about the sound masses on offer. More than the norm for music of this genre, <i>Sublunar</i>’s musical elements—drawn from old ‘78s (apparently exhumed from his grandfather’s shed), analog synthesizers, reel-to-reel recorders, and sundry objects—are smothered in grime, dust, static, and hiss, and the resultant depth charge associated with these sketches turns out to be strong indeed. Some sense of disorientation kicks in, too, when many of the pieces appear and then disappear so quickly. Relatively longer settings such as “Black Sands” and “Oberon,” on the other hand, offer adequate time for the listener to acclimatize him/herself to their evocative soundworlds and begin to hazard some reasonable impression of their visual definition and spatial layout.

Certainly the textural dimension is well-accounted for in the recording, as noted when choral voices warble angelically during “Europa” and struggle to be heard amidst a thick slab of crackle and grime; string plucks and warm synth tones likewise resound throughout “In the Shadow of the Vanishing Night,” despite the waves of dust that roll insistently alongside them. With lazy, head-nodding beats included, “Ebbing” and “Titan” find Ikin veering into instrumental hip-hop territory, of all things, even if Ikin’s zones are more littered with atmospheric noise than the genre norm. One can draw a connecting line from virtually any album with an ambient dimension to Eno, yet Sublunar suggests that doing so isn’t mere contrivance. The distance between the instrumental sketches on <i>Another Green World</i> and <i>Sublunar</i> isn’t all that great when both albums’ pieces conjure such distinctive and alien sound worlds in settings also distinguished by brevity. It wouldn’t take much to mistakenly identify the insectoid synth noises buzzing through “Oberon” as the handiwork of Eno rather than Ikin, for instance, and such similarities emerge elsewhere, too.

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