Jack Marchment: Who's Afraid of Iannis Xenakis?
Herb Recordings

Name-dropping would appear to be the order of the day on Jack Marchment's Who's Afraid of Iannis Xenakis? , with not only the album title doing so but the song titles too, as “Albers” (artist Josef Albers, presumably) and “Delia Dub” (electronic composer Derbyshire) indicate. That Marchment references F.T. Marinetti, the founder of the Futurist movement, via the title “Marinetti” seems entirely apropos given the album's futuristic spirit. The collection traffics in an analog-styled electronica style that at times (e.g., “Brabham and Company”) resembles a spacey fusion of the Warp catalogue and any number of kosmische musik albums.

The collection begins promisingly with the brooding and cinematic “Schult-Abbey,” which overlays a swaying, squelchy rhythm track with a dark weave of horn, string, and synthesizer motifs, and then follows it with “Putney,” an equally dystopic commingling of menacing orchestral design and clockwork rhythms. “Anquetil” exudes the rhythmic propulsion one would expect from a track that presumably pays tribute to French cyclist Jacques Anquetil, the first cyclist to win the Tour de France five times, while “Delia Dub” opts for intergalactic electronica, which seems fitting given Derbyshire's innovative work in the electronic composition domain. Elsewhere, the experimental head-nodder “Albers” roughs up its scratchy breaks with a collagist's grab bag of samples and synth melodies, and “Maximilian” hits hard with a viral beat attack and a seething swarm of electronic noise and synthetic maneuvers.

Each of Marchment's glistening, detail-packed set-pieces comes into orbit for three or four minutes, makes its case, and then just as surreptitiously vanishes. In “Marinetti,” woozy, Boards of Canada-styled synth melodies butt heads with a lockstep synthetic beat pattern, and in “Countach Sound,” a throbbing intro briefly lands the track within Autechre territory before relocating for a less derivative downtempo area. All of which suggests that, with some degree of legitimacy one could characterize Who's Afraid of Iannis Xenakis? as an homage to the recent Warp era when the latest material from Boards of Canada and Autechre was awaited with breathless anticipation.

October 2009