Claro Intelecto: Neurofibro
Ai Records

Neurofibro's an odd name for an IDM record, but it's no arbitrary title. Short for Neurofibromatosis, it's a nerve disease, specifically a set of genetic disorders which cause tumors to grow along various kinds of nerves and which can also affect the development of bone and skin tissues. Apparently Mark Stewart (Claro Intelecto) was accompanied throughout the recording of the album by the disease but, beyond the title, the album betrays no audible connection to the condition. While the recording includes two tracks from 2003's Peace of Mind EP as well as others from the recent Section EP, at seventy-three minutes there's more than enough new material on Neurofibro to justify its release. The music itself is a bright, expertly crafted but hardly innovative fusion of Warp-styled IDM and mellow, melodic Techno. As delectable as it is, Stewart's not blazing any new trails here and treads ground thoroughly visited by others before him. Still, having registered that caveat, there's no denying its many pleasures. “Peace of Mind” certainly opens the set strongly, with warm Rhodes chords joined by funky propulsive beats and atmospheric synth washes. Other highlights include the stumbling house rhythms on “Percentages,” the chugging Kraftwerk machine beats on the electro-house-flavoured “Mono,” and the dark symphonic techno of “Section.” “Contact” might be the best thing here, its insistent bass line establishing an hypnotic groove alongside flickering hi-hats and moody synth melodies. What ultimately compensates for the familiarity of the Claro Intelecto style is Stewart's ability to infuse each of the thirteen tracks with unique qualities. Such largesse has its downside, however. Most of the tracks weigh in at five or six minutes, and the album consequently feels long. Imagine each track shortened slightly and the result would still be over fifty minutes, still a legitimate full-length but one more concise and fleeter in spirit. For fans of classic IDM, Neurofibro's a perfect complement to Ai's recent Station comp, especially in light of Stewart's absence from it.

May 2004