Aniline: Pixelated Orchestra
Unnamed Label

With Pixelated Orchestra Aniline members Alex and Flo make their full-length debut on Unnamed Label Records, also home to Phasen and Purse Candy. The Lyon-Poitiers, France-based producers' melodic-electronica sound is straight out of the classic Warp songbook with the recording's fifteen tracks offering updated riffs on early Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, and Plaid. The style is familiar—pretty analog synth melodies, jittery breakbeats, chopped vocals, occasional injections of acid gobble and mayhem of one kind or another—but the boys nevertheless bring a goodly amount of energy and enthusiasm to their material.

“Argile” immediately drops us into the middle of Richard D. James territory with a smattering of breakbeats and synthetic melodies, while the Plaid-like “Turquoise” splatters its synthesizer patterning and buzzing breakbeats with all manner of tomfoolery (a child saying “I have to go potty”). Elegant and even dramatic, “Prune” shows that Alex and Flo can exercise restraint when the mood strikes. The pretty “Méthylène” likewise charms with an uncluttered display of electric piano and synthesizer melodies, while “Ébène” is so iridescent it brings back memories of the short-lived Plone project. Radiant tracks “Ivoire” and “Écarlate” also exude a child-like wonder that enhances their appeal.

Pixelated Orchestra doesn't stray much beyond Aniline's clearly marked-out territory. A few moments of acoustic piano at the start of “Caramel” hint that it might take a surprising detour into experimental electroacoustic music-making but the song quickly reverts to form when a funky beat structure and an array of synth melodies takes over. The album isn't without a withering moment either. “Zinzolin” revisits the kind of manic, amped-up silliness that sent many listeners running in the opposite direction when the Squarepusher-styled drill'n'bass style first surfaced. Thankfully, it's largely the exception to the rule on this otherwise fairly well-controlled collection. The release of Pixelated Orchestra suggests that with enough time having passed perhaps we'll soon see a resurgence of acid-IDM electronica in the early Warp mold, with outfits like Aniline, Kettel, and their ilk leading the way.

June 2010