Electronic Barnacle Island: Deeply Faulted Area Resembling An Upright Deck Of Cards
KiraKira Disc Records

Deeply Faulted Area Resembling An Upright Deck Of Cards impresses as eight distinctive forays into brooding experimental IDM from Electronic Barnacle Island (Florida-based Aaron Noel). The heavy reliance on older synth sounds, crunchy beats, and spectral moods might recall Boards of Canada, but where that group's music is bucolic and nostalgic, Electronic Barnacle Island's is dark, unsettling, and ominous. Noel weaves enticing tapestries to create a compellingly original brand of melodic electronica that moves seamlessly between becalmed ambience and aggressive euphoria. It's an engrossing and instrumentally rich sound world, one teeming with mystery and portent. "Mheragain" and "Reset' attest to that richness as the former merges surging orchestral strings with percussive clatter and angelic choral singing, while the latter's aggressive thrums underlay mournful tones as celestial swells rise from the blasted landscape. Electronic Barnacle Island often fuses clanging electro-beats with crystalline, glistening synth tones underlaid by electronic textures that are by turns scurrying, scraping, creaking, and strangulated. The closing "Tender Snap Compartment," a dense amalgam of uptempo metallic rhythms and symphonic melodies, encapsulates the overall style. There's a pronounced Eastern influence, too, as melodies often drone (the anthemic "Tender Snap Compartment") and undulate ("Servo Paw"), while beats range between skeletal funk ("Mortal Hood Clip") and hip-hop breakbeats ("Chance to be Hollow"). It's a challenge to create something novel when today's IDM terrain is so well-traveled, but Electronic Barnacle Island manages to do so by offering captivating variations upon the genre's stylistic themes.

December 2003