Halogen: Baked

Adam Janota-Bzowski developed his Halogen sound over a three-year period from a former residence by the sea in Hove, Brighton. Though not genre-advancing, the young producer's debut collection, Baked, is nevertheless an above-average collection of experimental ambient-electronic set-pieces, all of them recorded between 2006 and 2008. A seeming blend of acoustic instruments, electronics, and programming, the tracks are ornamented with the requisite genre elements (clicks, whirrs, glitches, samples, found sounds) but they're also bolstered by an oft-distinctive melodic dimension.

The third track, “Ohmu,” is one of the album's best—a sophisticated blend of dub bass pulsation and languorous slide guitar-styled swoops, with all of it wrapped in a generally serenading ambiance—while the fourth, “Aperture Apparel,” shows Halogen's talent for crafting inviting downtempo landscapes. His background includes stints as a singer and guitarist in bands of a post-rock disposition (prior to relocating to Brighton in 2006 to study Digital Music & Sound Art), so it doesn't surprise to find Janota-Bzowski allowing elements of post-rock to seep into Baked 's material. “German Piano” opts for a jazzy, post-rock vibe that injects the project with added energy and colour, while “Redux” likewise boosts the album's impact by slathering its hard-wired electronics with beat thrust. Armed with lazy drum beats and Rhodes playing, “Etik” could be classified as post-rock of a particularly laid-back sort—the kind of thing that wouldn't sound out of place on an n5MD release. That one could easily imagine the entire album, in fact, as an n5MD product testifies to the solid quality of Janota-Bzowski's full-length.

November 2009