Christ.: Blue Shift Emissions

Put simply, Blue Shift Emissions, Christ.'s (Chris Horne) full-length follow-up to his Pylonesque debut, is such a marvelous, fully-rounded piece of work it could serve as an electronic standard for other would-be composers to regard as an ideal model. The Scottish artist effortlessly strikes a balance that's seemingly elusive to others, specifically that delicately wrought meeting-point where melodic elegance and refined sound design coincide. Arrangements never drown in excess, but neither are they overly skeletal; beats likewise are never overly complex or too basic. Christ. embroiders multiple layers of glistening synthesizer melodies and chiming chords into lush, enveloping oases of sound in eleven songs (occurring midway, the dreamy “Cordate” is apparently a live, single-take keyboard piece). Singling out individual cuts risks drawing attention to parts whereas it's the whole which counts most; even so, “Blue Shifty Missions” and especially “Vernor Vinge” stand out as particularly ravishing displays of panoramic ambiance. Previously established aspects of Christ.'s sound remain firmly in place, the strong kinship with Boards of Canada being the most obvious (“Making a Snow Angel” merges subtle hip-hop-influenced pulses with gauzy electronic elements in textbook BofC style and a song title like “Holobenthic Grex Venalium” would fit seamlessly into the track listing of any of the group's three albums)—a not surprising detail given that Horne was a part of the group until the mid-‘90s. There's no desperate showboating or grandstanding on display here, just superbly-crafted electronic music of the highest caliber.

December 2006