Isan: Eastside
KESHHHHHH Recordings

Isan's Eastside came into being as part of an installation piece for This is the gallery, and the gallery is many things, an exhibition curated by Eastside Projects in Birmingham, and as such it departs from the concise electronic popheard on Morr Music releases such as Lucky Cat, Meet Next Life, and Glow In The Dark Safari Set. Apparently, a sonic environment developed over a nine-week period from ten speakers distributed throughout the gallery based on recordings and tones produced within the space, and elements of that installation were used as the basis for the EP's tracks.

Though it eschews rhythm-based elements, “Eastside” nevertheless possesses many of the earmarks of an Isan production—the meticulous attention to detail and the refinement of the sounds utilized, to name but two. It's an ambient-styled piece of introspective character that exudes the shimmering, crystalline character that so often identifies the work crafted by Antony Ryan and Robin Saville as theirs. Elements hover in the air, drifting ever so slowly if at all, and the sparkling tones criss-cross and fade celestially for fifteen peaceful minutes. Given the time-suspending nature of the material, one naturally thinks of an Eno ambient classic such as Music For Airports, and truth be told “Eastside” wouldn't sound much out of place sandwiched in between the tracks on that album's second side.

On side B, three well-known producers offer personalized refractions of Isan's material. Simon Scott gives the piece a “Flame Attire” mix that finds the original expanding into a more aggressive and panoramic form, as if the gallery doors have been flung open to let the outside world seep in. Taylor Deupree's “Open Field” mix perpetuates that opening-up strategy by peppering Isan's original with all manner of granular crackle and pop as it inches its way into the countryside to bask in the sun's warmth, while Steinbrüchel's quietly radiant “Neben” mix offers a particularly soothing interpretation of the piece. They're all credible versions, even if none can match the meditative grandeur of Isan's original, which offers a rare glimpse into a less pop-centered though still satisfying side of the group.

October 2011