Near The Parenthesis: L'Eixample

No, L'Eixample isn't a misspelling of the French “l'example”; the album title refers to the modernist architecture Tim Arndt (aka Near The Parenthesis) encountered in the L'Eixample district during the Barcelona , Spain travels that inspired his follow-up to 2007's Of Soft Construction. Apparently, “L'Eixample” also means “extension” in Catalunyan, a meaning that's naturally applicable to the further refinement and development one hears in Arndt's Near The Parenthesis style. The San Francisco-based producer's music is a galaxy removed from abrasive, noise-based variants of the form, and the new album at times feels like a master class in “warm” electronica, with the opener “Modernisme” no finer example of just how alluring the genre can be when the right producer's involved. On subtly rapturous settings like “Cerda's Plan” and “A Brief Walk In The Sea,” piano, Rhodes , buried voices, and streaming guitars merge indissolubly with electronics to form multi-layered masses whose ebb and flow seductively draws the listener into a beatific sonic realm. Just because Arndt favours the genre's gentler side doesn't mean the music's mental pabulum either. Yes, it's pretty but it also exemplifies a sophistication in construction and design that rewards close listening. Though the gossamer web he spins in “Paral.lel” impresses as particularly lovely, throughout the album Arndt weaves together a remarkable sum-total of sounds—consider the densely arranged “Guell” and “Smdm” as prime examples—without ever lapsing into excess. The fifty-three-minute collection is about as lovely as “emotive electronica” gets.

October 2008