The Buoys: Grillo Parlante

Leicester-based Bathysphere has issued a modest number of recordings to date but perhaps more prolific labels might learn from its example, as there often appears to be a correlation between lesser output and higher quality. A case in point, Grillo Parlante, The Buoys' debut album, is a thoroughly accomplished affair from start to finish: ten tracks of fully-developed and lushly textured electronic soundscapes, plus the collection weighs in at a just-right 43 minutes. Chris Cousin (aka Sofalofa and Chin Chin and Big Toe member), Stu Smith, and Steve Gibbs construct remarkably evocative atmospheres using custom-built electronics and then further individuate the compositions with the integration of tremolo guitar and keyboard melodies.

“Absolutely Nothing” begins with rippling currents and static flickers but the clinical mood shifts abruptly when a gentle guitar melody doubled by electric piano warms the haze--a lovely and auspicious opening. A similar sensitivity to ambient texture distinguishes “Aches” but The Buoys broadens its sound with a midtempo funk pulse and a minimal synth melody of the kind favoured by Eno. Twanging guitar shadings and processed voices surface too, extending the range of textures. “Balance” unfurls at a more curdling tempo but with no diminishment in drama or atmosphere while the beatless “Spider” contrasts shudders of electronic noise with placid electric piano and electric guitar themes. A departure by comparison, “Solar” adds the dreamy musings of an uncredited female singer (“Sometimes I have to slip away”) to its slow yet entrancing unfurl. Other settings are ponderous (“New”) , ruminative (“Forman”), and laden with reverie (“Wrist”) , all of which makes this an expertly-crafted collection of electronic music.

May 2007