Milieu: Remodelled

More electronic music from Boltfish, with this particular installment by Columbia, South Carolina resident Brian Grainger (aka Milieu) titled Remodelled. Available in two formats (a 15-track CD or 17 tracks spread across four three-inch discs), Grainger's collection opens with the barrelhouse rabble-rouser “Hidden Paths,” thereby suggesting that it may range farther afield than the average Boltfish recording. Unfortunately, like many an electronic producer, Grainger has a soft spot for Boards of Canada and cuts like “Forest (Fast Edit)” and “As Summer Blooms” show he's hardly shy about acknowledging the influence. Here and elsewhere, woozy synth and Rhodes melodies float over crisp hip-hop-flavoured beats in that by-now-familiar BofC style. Even when the beats depart from the template (as they both frenetically and funkily do on “Bike Trail 2” and “Lazer Rinq”), the Warp duo's signature gauzy melodies are never far away. A swinging hip-hop thrust starts “Thrum” promisingly, for example, but the song too-quickly reverts to familiar form while “Snowhill” is pretty much a BofC interlude. Not surprisingly, the most satisfying moments are those when Milieu's sound takes a step towards divesting itself of those derivative qualities (e.g., the livelier, up-tempo attack in “Pileus (Infinite Edit)”). There's no denying the album's overall quality but there's no denying either the overly derivative character of the music. Had Grainger pushed his music in a more unique direction, and furthermore edited the album's running time down from its current 72 minutes to a more svelte 50 or thereabouts, Remodelled would impress more than it currently does.

May 2007