Alka: A Dog Lost in the Woods
Electronic Eel

More ultra-sparkling IDM from Bryan Michael under the Alka guise, A Dog Lost in the Woods serves up twelve expansive samplings of his composing and production talents. In contrast to other long-winded IDM artists, the Alka material appeals for being direct and economical, with all of the tracks in the three- and four-minute range. What recommends the album most, however, is that Michael has toughened up the Alka sound considerably in the beat department so that the tracks' candy-coated melodicism and synthetic amplitude is nicely balanced by a heavier rhythm attack. So while you'll find glittering IDM well accounted for in the bookends “Blueberry” and “Sky, Face Down,” you'll also find much more material less solely situated in the upper stratosphere. Hints of shoegaze drama seep into the keyboard sparkle of “When You Abandon Your Youth” while “I Am a Wreck” and “Israel” add refreshing hardness to the Alka sound by grounding their celestial upper registers with heavy funk pulses. Michael roughs up the Alka sound in a few other tracks too, with a heavier beat pattern powering “Separate,” head-nodding grime dirtying up “Alpha Pilos,” and a hip-hop feel anchoring “Solip,” whose silken synthetic flow is also given a slightly more epic treatment compared to the other tracks. Anyone wishing to declare the genre's played-out will be challenged by this superbly-crafted sophomore Alka effort.

August 2009