Christ.: Metamorphic Reproduction Miracle

Coinciding with appearances at Scotland 's Triptych Festival and Sonar 2003, Christ.'s provocatively titled follow-up to his acclaimed 2002 debut ep Pylonesque has just been released by the Scottish label Benbecula. There is a satisfying flow to Metamorphic Reproduction Miracle as its 14 tracks wend their way through multiple moods, styles, and textures without ever deviating so far afield that an overall unanimity of sound is lost. Based on the aural evidence of this purely electronic release, it's tempting to make comparisons to other artists inhabiting similar territory. Certainly identifiable traces of Autechre and Boards of Canada appear throughout, rendering Christ.'s attempt to subsume his influences into a uniquely personalized IDM style not wholly successful.

There are two general templates to which most pieces conform. First of all, the typically brief beatless tracks invariably invite comparisons to Boards of Canada. “Medulla Oblongata” and “Sunart” are bucolic, pastoral interludes that wouldn't sound out of place on Music Has The Right To Children or Geogaddi. Similarly, “Always to Play” and “Pylonesque (Broken Mix)” deploy swathes of nostalgic synth melodies, glistening tonalities, and voice samples that are inarguably similar to the music of Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin. Finally, “School is Not Compulsory” pairs becalmed, interweaving B of C synth and organ melodies with bombardments of percussive clusters. Beat-driven tracks such as “Odds, Evens, and Primates” and “Fantastic Light,” on the other hand, instantiate the secondary template: a mid-tempo, head-nodding groove enhanced by clicking patterns, dubby echoes, and percussive detailing which support synth-based melodies of blissed-out melancholy. Some pieces do deviate from these templates, however. The funk groove of “Mk Naomi” immediately differentiates it from the other tracks, as does the compressed Einóma-like beat that underpins the organs and chattering synths of “Skylab One.” Also distinctive are “Ray Breakout” which is dominated by a jittery, mutating Autechre-like rhythm peppered by intermittent synth accents, and “Eezeebreez” which offsets exotic whistling sounds and percussion clatters with gossamer synth melodies that literally do sound like they're wafting on the breeze.

Metamorphic Reproduction Miracle is atmospheric and explorative, confidently composed, expertly sequenced, and competently produced. Christ. concocts an engaging analogue brew of soaring melodies, deep grooves, and textural detail, but one that is also, however, derivative, at times too reminiscent of others' styles within the genre. Perhaps Christ.'s next release will find him fully divesting himself of these admittedly towering influences to fashion a release that more definitively establishes his own character. Until then, listeners can satisfy themselves with the many pleasures offered by the accomplished if imperfect Metamorphic Reproduction Miracle.

July 2003