Odd Nosdam: LIF
In his Crisopa productions, Santiago Lizón traffics in a kind of breezy blend of IDM, electronica, and post-rock, prime samplings of which are presented on his Sound In Silence debut Transhumante. It's an unfussy and commendably to-the-point set featuring seven melodic pieces, none of them longer than five minutes at a time. Formally speaking, it's not the Madrid-based producer's first appearance on the label as he contributed to a 2013 release, Faded Photographs Remixes, by Absent Without Leave, and it's not his first album either, as full-lengths and EPs earlier appeared on labels such as n5MD and Escala.
With Lizón riffing on well-established tropes associated with IDM and electronica, there's an old-school character to Transhumante's material, though not in a way that's off-putting. On the contrary, much pleasure is derived from hearing Lizón apply his skills so expertly to the material on the thirty-five-minute set. “Bird Song Reincarnation” sets the tone for the release with a vibrant, almost shoegaze-like production spiked by punchy beats, claps, treated vocals, and deep bass lines, all of it smartly assembled to maximize the music's atmospheric sparkle. Variations on that theme are explored in the six that follow, with Lizón wisely aware of the need for contrasts of mood and dynamics. Still, while a few quiet moments do surface (during “Serene Option,” for example), for the most part Transhumante opts for widescreen dazzle.
That a Crisopa track such as “I Am the Lord of These Ruins” or “Irradiating Nucleus” could be mistaken for one by Ulrich Schnauss hardly argues against it, and Lizón demonstrates in these productions a melodic command comparable to the best in the IDM-electronica field. For the record, two physical editions of Transhumante were prepared by Sound In Silence for the release, one an edition of 150 handmade copies and the other a set of fifty featuring the bonus track “Gran Panal” (both editions come with a download code coupon).
Issued concurrently with Crisopa's release, Odd Nosdam's LIF, available in a limited edition run of 200 handmade copies, is decidedly different in style, though that hardly surprises when the mini-album is the spawn of the Bay Area-based artist widely known as an Anticon co-founder. The stylistic character of LIF was inspired by a number of things, but two in particular bear worth mentioning: weather and William Basinski. To be specific, the material was recorded in early 2017 when the Bay Area was being inundated with seemingly endless amounts of rain; secondly, the sound of degraded tape loops that Basinski most famously exploited in his The Disintegration Loops project emerges in Nosdam's own grainy productions, albeit in slightly different manner. Whereas a Basinski piece can last as long as an hour, LIF's ten tracks (all of them titled with three letters and set in upper case, for whatever reason) are by comparison short, ranging as they do from one minute to seven.In these repetitive, rain-drenched productions, distressed loops rich in tremolo, tape-delay, and echo grind, pulse, lurch, and heave, their forms defined in real time by Nosdam using hand-triggered effects. There are commonalities between all ten but differentiating details, too; “SES,” for instance, distances itself from the others by including a cat-like vocal effect in amongst its flow, while the wheeze of a harmonium-like instrument is the dominant element within “REN.” Texture, not melody, is paramount, with much of the rusted-out material sounding like it's been mangled by an industrial shredder of some kind. Quietly clangorous and smothered in hiss and grime (sometimes verging on total submersion), LIF's lulling loops approximate the sound of drizzle and decay rendered into quasi-musical form.