Ian Andrews: Ceremonial

Ian Andrews maintains Fällt's high standard with Ceremonial, the inaugural release in Fällt's burn-to-order ‘Ferric' series. Fellow Australians Pimmon and Oren Ambarchi might currently be more familiar names within electronica circles, but, if there's any justice, that should change for Andrews with this exceptional outing. The Sydney-based composer brings decades of experience to the recording, having produced video and sound works since 1981 using aliases like Kurt Volentine, The Horse He's Sick, Cut With the Kitchen Knife, and Target Audience. Under the guises Hypnoblob and Disco Stu, he immersed himself in techno and drum & bass during the ‘90s and recently drew attention for Radiohack, a foray into online minimal ambience.

But Ceremonial is a peak unto itself. How to describe it? Its repetitive rhythm patterns suggest techno but it's too unusual to be delimited by that label. Its music oozes dub-like fluidity and a production style of oceanic depth, yet it's hardly dub. There's no shortage of digital handiwork either but to name it glitch would be misleading. In short, Andrews' music bears traces of said genres but distills them all into a compellingly fresh hybrid that's mesmerizing. Ceremonial is also immersive though that shouldn't surprise, considering its eight tracks stretch out with many in the eight minute range.

On most tracks, Andrews creates a looping base over which he drops swirling, syncopated layers, although the repetitiveness of the strategy is camouflaged by the tracks' sonic contrasts: an incessant whirring pattern accompanied by clanks and rattles dominates “Recursive Toupee,” for example, whereas bell patterns hypnotically pan back and forth in “Libidinal Decay.” On the majestic “Working The Whole,” machine noises and twitchy pinpricks grind out relentless chugging rhythms alongside industrial thrattle, abrasive surges, and garbled voice samples. Over its ten minutes, the track becomes increasingly dense and works up an incredible, propulsive steam until it turns progressively more vaporous, and seemingly evaporates at its end.

While the labels are obviously dissimilar in some respects, it wouldn't be hard to visualize Ceremonial as a Chain Reaction release rather than a Fällt one; in fact, the tracks move progressively closer in style to the Berlin label over the course of the record until “Andevoranto” finds it inhabiting the style fully with lush, hypnotic waves that recall Hallucinator's Landlocked. And, as if to dispel any doubt, crowd noises and exotic clatter surface through the haze of the eleven-minute closer “ Jaffa ” which clearly references Vladislav Delay's equally immersive Multila and Entain. Certainly, Ceremonial exudes the deep, dubby qualities associated with the Berlin label but, more importantly, it's a work of mesmerizing originality that, like the releases in the Chain Reaction catalogue, sublimely reconfigures if not transcends genre stereotypes.

June 2004