Aerosol: Leave

Crisopa: A Lucid Dream Kit

While understandably different in many respects, these two n5MD releases have one thing in common: a polyglot nature that sees their creators omnivorously working multiple styles into their latest album-length statements. Leave, the third album from Causa Sui member Rasmus Rasmussens under the Aerosol name, draws upon post-rock, krautrock, and cosmic music, whereas A Lucid Dream Kit, Madrid-based Santiago Lizón's Crisopa sequel to 2012's Biodance, focuses more on electronica, shoegaze, and garage by comparison.

Much has changed in Rasmussens' life since Airborne appeared six years ago. Causa Sui's profile has justifiably risen during that time, and the Denmark producer has also played with musicians from Can and Faust in that interval. Perhaps it's these experiences that offer some explanation for why Leave often harks back to the cosmic synth pioneers of the ‘70s era in its overall sound (see “Passing”). It doesn't always, though: its fifth track, “Kicks,” could easily pass for a collaboration between Manual and Ulrich Schnauss, while the burning synthesizers in “Real” warble in a way that would do Eno proud.

The album's psychedelic bent is evident from the first seconds of “Paths” when kosmische whooshes sputter and when the music swells during the moments that follow into a radiant, multi-dimensional exercise in Cluster-styled krautrock. The association grows even stronger when a simple drum machine beat surfaces to carry the electric guitar playing and electronics along. Yet while “Paths” is so definitive an encapsulation of the Aerosol sound, it sets a standard that's tough for the album's other seven songs to match, “Reach” proves to be its equal, due in no small part to the chiming, Manual-styled guitar hooks that lift the chugging tune to the same level as the opener.

No piece is more synth-drenched than the title track, so much that it's treated guitar shadings threaten to disappear under the layers of synths and electronic effects Rasmussens packs into its five minutes. Still, while most of the album's analog synth tapestries are about as dense as they could possibly be, “Possible” distances itself slightly from the others in opting for a more gentle reverie that threads acoustic guitar and piano in amongst its synths and electric guitar. It's perhaps the prettiest moment on an album that presents a slightly different musical side of Rasmussens than he shows in the group context of Causa Sui.

Though it's hard to imagine it's possible, Crisopa's A Lucid Dream Kit is even more densely layered than Leave and, as mentioned, is dramatically different in style, too. The amount of detail compressed into the standard Crisopa track almost beggars belief: within “Control De Galibo,” for example, beats writhe and voices stutter as if trying to wrest themselves free from the electrified whole. After that opening salvo, it comes almost as a shock when the subsequent piece, “Fading Away Microwave Popcorns,” opens quietly with guitar shadings and subdued electronic treatments, and as much of a surprise is the garage-styled beatwork that surfaces two minutes into the piece to help lift the production into the stratosphere.

A Lucid Dream Kit isn't without its own trippy quality, which Lizón bolsters by having the eleven tracks appear without pauses between them. Doing so creates the impression of a fifty-five-minute travelogue that guides the listener through landscapes of contrasting character, some serene and others turbulent. The echo of another artist also occasionally emerges, such that it's virtually impossible to listen to “Sincrolunes” and ignore the Boards Of Canada influence.

As satisfying as the recording generally is, there are times when Lizón might have been better to pull back a bit on the density level as it can sometimes obscure the core strengths of a given piece. So much is happening within “Vamos Hacia Un Gran Sol,” for instance, that the track's stronger details, its melodic character and rhythmic thrust, can get lost in the process. Having said that, there's also no denying Lizón's skills as a composer and sound designer, and no one could reasonably describe his oft-mesmerizing tracks as lacking in stimulation and imagination.

June 2015