A-Z Rotator: Science of Chance
Three new Ad Noiseam full-lengths from AZ-Rotator, Detritus, and Lapsed offer challenging forays into post-IDM soundscaping, 'symphonic drum & bass,' and electronic hip-hop.
Perpetuating the tradition of jittery fractal beatscaping established by Autechre and embraced by Spezial Materials' artists like Solarium and Traject, Spanish artist Uge Ortiz's (AZ-Rotator) Science of Chance impresses as an accomplished if derivative debut. Beneath expanses of melancholic arching tones, AZ-Rotator litters his ragged terrain with writhing patterns of pulverized splatter, throbs, and incessantly skittering beats. Ortiz adds variety by integrating slithering and chopped voice samples here and there but, beyond that, largely hews to the template throughout. Some differences distinguish one piece from another: “Coxenoll” ups the hallucinatory ante, as Ortiz sharpens a drawer full of knives while sliced voices confusedly croak, while a subtle head-nodding feel enlivens the ominous microscaper “Empsaver.” Aurally equivalent to a 50-minute seizure, there are enough clanking snaps, shape-shifting stutters, and percolating pinpricks in these eleven excursions to satisfy listeners insatiably craving for more micro-detailed digitalia.David Dando-Moore roots his Detritus sound in drum & bass but considerably boosts it by deepening the material with dramatic emotion; in fact, his second album exemplifies Dando-Moore's wish for improved compositional quality in the industrial scene. Though Origin's chugging pulses and romping slams of rough-edged beats roll out with an industrial crunch, Dando-Moore brings panoramic sweep to the pieces by draping mournful strings, delicate piano melodies, and brooding washes over their churning foundations, and further amplifying his 'symphonic drum & bass' with reverberant production. Imagine Wolfgang Voigt's Gas style paired with aggressive breaks and you'll have some idea of Detritus's powerful sound. Admittedly, it's the kind of style that could easily turn into kitsch yet the sincerity of his attack enables Dando-Moore to avoid that trap. Wisely, he ensures there's enough contrast of mood to maintain listening interest throughout: string melodies ooze Eastern mystery in “Dead Daffodils” while a typically droll academic pontificates on the 'malevolent revolution' and 'scientific caste system' in “Fable.” Elsewhere, the screeching “Sense” shows that Dando-Moore doesn't entirely leave the industrial genre behind, and the also-industrial “Tinsel” sets aside a few moments for some truly lethal drum & bass. Sacrificing the subtlety of the Detritus originals and more grimy by comparison, Mothboy's “16 Fingers” remix twitches and flails, while Mad E.P.'s wild 'Rubbing Mud remix' of “Paper Cut” is no shrinking violet either. The interpretations are a nice bonus but do weaken the otherwise strong uniformity of the album.
On his self-titled sophomore outing, Lapsed (Jason Stevens) warms scalpel-sharp glitch with chopped voice stutter, woozy turntable effects, and crisp hip-hop rhythms. With tight stutter-funk beats anchoring the material, Stevens keeps things interesting by building constantly morphing fields of activity on top. “Cracked Mirrors” nicely exemplifies the style, with snappy snare cracks establishing the tune's lope while mechanical noises and soft melodic fragments fleetingly come into view. Hear too how he pulls the carpet out from under the beats in the slippery “Break Ya Neck” while screeches echo back and forth between channels. The collection is also strengthened by stylistic diversity. While “Beat to Death,” for example, floats a slow, Eno-styled synth line over a pinched and throbbing funk base, “Fateless Drift” carves an ominous path through a dystopic jungle of android murmurs. The set closes strongly with a dubbed-out “Break Ya Neck” overhaul that finds Air Inspector's (Aaron Spectre) dulcimer adding hazy atmosphere to the scratchy, blunted mix. Fashioning intricate funk from strangulated voice snippets and hiccupping throbs, Lapsed argues strongly for the possibilities associated with electronic-hip-hop hybrids.