City Rain: This I Will Remember
Electronic Eel

Axiotronic: Of Latitude and Longitude
Electronic Eel

Anyone thinking the IDM-electronica genre's played out need only listen to City Rain's This I Will Remember to start believing otherwise. On this svelte thirty-four-minute set, Philadelphian Benjamin Runyan invests his polished tracks with so much jubilant spirit and bounce that nay-sayers may find themselves having second thoughts. If the music exudes a stronger emotional pull than is usual for the genre, it may be because Runyan designed the album to chronicle the longing felt by one enduring a three-month wait for an overseas partner. Joy, melancholy, and wistfulness pervade the material, making it easy, for example, to hear the anguish of long-distance longing at one moment and the joy romance brings in another. Quirky cuts such as “Wow That Was Boring” and “This I Will Remember Pt. 1” showcase slinky rhythms, burbling keyboards, and sleek synthesizer melodies while “This I Will Remember Pt. 2” opts for beatless melancholia and “Just Got Off the Phone with You” deftly works a sprinkling of funk into the mix. Runyan humanizes his music's electronics and tight beat programming with the repeated addition of acoustic guitar; take away that element and City Rain's style could sit rather comfortably alongside that of fellow “robot-music” practitioners Solvent and Lowfish.

That Suction Music connection also carries over to Axiotronic's third full-length, Of Latitude And Longitude, given that Philadelphia native Michael Spinka refers to the project himself as “music for dreaming robots.” Take away the vibraphone (which occasionally appears as a distinguishing Axiotronic instrument timbre, most prominently in the lush “Blips And Angles”) in “Side FX” and “Midnight Mathematics” and the tracks' upbeat synth-pop style and old-school drum programming come close to matching the Suction template. The Axiotronic style is characterized as “a mix of multiple synthesized melodies interacting with each other in jubilant harmony” and the description aptly captures the music's spirit. “Superfusion,” “On Wiltshire Circles,” and “Vector Sector” sparkle with sunshowers of vibrant IDM while “Robot Placism” verges on near-euphoria in its marriage of synthetic tone-bending and blinding iridescence. At over fifty minutes, Axiotronic's third full-length, Of Latitude And Longitude, is the more substantial of the two releases but, if anything, Spinka might want to follow Runyan's lead and keep his Axiotronic tracks in the three-to-four-minute range which feels just right for music of this poppy type.

May 2009