Lorenzo Montanà: Eilatix

Sense: The Dream

That Lorenzo Montanà dedicated his Eilatix to the late Pete Namlook hardly surprises, given that the Italian electronic composer collaborated with him on five Labyrinth volumes, all of which were issued on Namlook's Fax +49-69/450464 label (in fact, all seven of the albums Montanà produced prior to Eilatix appear on Fax). Listeners familiar with Namlook but new to Montanà already will have some sense, then, of what to expect from the forty-five-minute Eilatix: tried'n'true ambient-IDM heavy on synthetic design and swirling electronic melodies and featuring no small amount of pulsation and atmosphere. A hint of wiry acid sometimes seeps into the music (such as during the scene-setter “Nepenthes's Touch”) in a way that suggests some vague connection to Plastikman, minus the latter's feverish beat-making—which is not to suggest that Eilatix eschews rhythm, as it certainly includes a generous quota of pitter-pattering beats, albeit of the non-techno kind.

By the time the second track, “Byblis OT,” arrives, the album's style has come into clear focus, with Eilatix very much in the tradition of classic IDM. At the level of craft, it's faultless, with no better example of Montanà's artistry than the transporting dreamscape “Temporary Light.” In terms of dynamics and intensity, he generally keeps things pitched at a soothing and non-threatening level (though the volume does get cranked up considerably during the closing moments of “Byblis OT”), all of which allows Eilatix to go down smoothly. If there's a knock against the album, it's that, being so atmospheric, it has the potential to blend into the background rather than totally command one's attention.

Adam Raisbeck's previous Sense release, Selected Moments Volume 1, made such a strong impression, it grabbed the number thirty-five spot in textura's year-end 2011 list. In contrast to Montanà's Eilatix, Sense's The Dream is more ambient-electronic in style than IDM. In keeping with its title, the album plunges deeply into dream-like realms that are often dark and murky. What helps distinguish Raisbeck's music is a pronounced emotional quality, something that the inner sleeve's note, “Thanks to all people still listening and feeling,” suggests is highly valued by the composer. One thing that The Dream does share with Eilatix is an emphasis on atmosphere, with Sense's release designed to be a thoroughly immersive listening experience.

Though a grounding concept is present, The Dream isn't a one-note affair. While “Nonlineareally” could pass for a homage to Tangerine Dream's Phaedra, given its synthetic propulsion and galaxial starbursts, ululating vocal chants and shrill glissando effects give “31mus” a dramatically contrasting character. In the title track, seashore sounds add to soft synthetic swirls and gently whistling melodic figures to help ease the listener into its exotic soundworld, while other tracks amplify their washes of shimmer and sparkle with echo and reverb. The Dream's most powerful piece, “Waking Transition,” pushes the immersion idea to the furthest extreme in stretching synthetic haze across a limitless sky for ten magnificent minutes, and as a bonus, fifteen phantasmagoric minutes of choral voices, shifting winds, and flaming synthesizer patterns appear three minutes after the seventh titled track ends.

July 2013