Ard Bit: Spanon
Symbolic Interaction

Imagine if Autechre had not let the inmates (the machines, that is) taken over the asylum after EP7 and had instead chosen a more atmospheric, restrained, and chilled direction. Something like Spanon by Ard Bit (Rotterdam-based Ard Janssen) might have been the result—material that's admittedly less visionary than Chiastic Slide and LP5 but a helluva lot more listenable than Confield and its ilk. As it turns out, Janssen is a long-time protégé of brothers Don and Roel Funcken, who are familiar to legions of electronic devotees as the operators behind Funckarma and Quench, and Spanon was co-produced and mastered by Roel (Janssen initially surfaced when he contributed to Quench's n5MD album Caipruss). All of which makes perfect sense once Ard Bit's tracks get moving, as the opening title track's hard-hitting dubstep crunch makes clear.

Spanon is no one-dimensional outing, however, but a wide-ranging affair that's as comfortable tackling languorous IDM (“Bleck”) and radiant electronic soul (“Fiber”) as it is downtempo funk (“Castick Flow”), dubstep (“Lusive”), and wiry Autechre-Funckarma workouts (“Toy,” “Metric Bate,” “Satch”). There's ample detail in play within every track, as Janssen builds layer upon layer of synthetic sound design into heavily atmospheric and oft-melancholy constructions. His sculpting of the material bears mention too, with the beats in particular handled in ear-catching manner: “Dvil,” for instance, rolls out a slow-motion head-nodder so heavy your neck could snap, while “Klint” is notable for its fusion of writhing synthetic treatments and Detroit-styled breaks. Structurally, the album's straightforward enough—thirteen cuts, all of which get the job done in four or five minutes—and Janssen himself has skills aplenty (he enrolled in the Royal Conservatory of The Hague in 1999 to study electronic composition and graduated four years later), as well as sense enough to know when to leave a track alone and not bury it under unnecessary excess.

October 2009