Mick Chillage: Tales from the Igloo

Could Mike Chillage possibly be the artist's real name? If so, the synchronicity between the producer's “chilly” name and the thoroughly “chilled” character of the dozen tracks on his Tales From The Igloo collection seems almost too uncanny to be true. Featuring material recorded between 2004 and 2008, Chillage's debut album makes good on its promise to showcase his atmospheric side, and convincingly demonstrates his aptitude for creating material of varying moods and kinds, with techno, ambient chill-out, dub-techno, and IDM among the styles heard.

The relatively serene opener “Hidden Landscape” paves the way for the harder-edged “Under the Ice,” whose pounding kick drums throb with cool techno fever while slightly menacing synth flourishes darken the dystopic skies overhead. The polished synthetic surfaces witnessed in tracks like “Hypothermia” and “Floating In Hyperspace” suggest kinship between Chillage and Boltfish artists such as Cheju and Joseph Auer, and traces of Kraftwerk sometimes can be detected in the tracks' melodic approach and beat programming. “Rotation” gets a serious boost from the slippery funk pulse that rolls through it, while the vibrant “lounge techno” of “Northern Nights” swoons with electronic élan. Not surprisingly, “Dubmarine” turns out to be a sleek dub-techno workout powered by a nicely percolating bass part and draped in sweeping synth flourishes. At album's end, Pentatonik takes the Chillage sound to a more epic level in a grandiose and exuberant treatment of “The Final Storm.”

The album's a lengthy journey at seventy-six minutes—two pieces are in the eight-minute range and the longest, the atmospheric ambient setting “Gateway Station,” is an overlong eleven minutes—but is still deserving of attention, just like everything else the always-reliable Psychonavigation has issued recently. But be forewarned: though Tales From the Igloo encompasses many genres, it's atmospheric above all else, meaning that it typically opts more for under- rather than overstatement in its attack.

September 2009