Principles Of Geometry: Burn The Land & Boil The Oceans

I recall hearing Principles Of Geometry's self-titled debut album in 2005 and finding it be, to put it tactfully, a tad too indebted to Boards of Canada. Seven years later, Guillaume Grosso and Jeremy Duval bring us their third Principles Of Geometry full-length (the second, Lazare, appeared in 2007), which while retaining echoes of BOC is considerably more expansive in the territory covered than the debut. That has its downside, too, however: rather than coming off like a clone, the band's identity loses some degree of definition when a great many stylistic bases are covered.

There is a certain degree of consistency to the Principles Of Geometry approach. The duo's commitment to an analogue synthetic style remains in place throughout, and many a song hews to a tempo falling somewhere between midtempo and downtempo. Manipulated vocal effects regularly appear (a gravelly, low-pitched drawl in the bluesy “Carbon Cowboy,” for example, as opposed to diseased voices in the plodding overture “Springed Dodge”), and the instrumental emphasis is, not surprisingly, on synthesizers and programmed beats. Nods to kosmische musik (“Ize” and “ISM,” wherein vocodered vocals croak alongside sequencer patterns and downtempo beats) and electro-IDM (“Dam Aicoab”) appear, and house and funk enter into the mix as well. Instead of a singular focus on IDM, the material branches out into rhythmic areas, such that a robust, electro-synth cut like “Americhael” could conceivably play comfortably in a club setting. At such moments, Principles Of Geometry starts to have more in common with Solvent than Boards Of Canada.

There are some memorable moments here—the way “Ize” is suddenly spiked by a wiry synthesizer pattern, for example, and how “Dam Aicoab” almost turns funky when giving in to the full force of its synth-coated rhythms. One of the album's best tracks, “Moloch,” snarls with a fierce determination that sees the group identity coming into clear focus; quite the opposite is “Mongrel,” which likewise opens in snarling IDM mode before inexplicably morphing into a deep house exercise. Head-scratching too is the not-entirely-convincing MC turn that surfaces during “Deerhunt.” Though “Zero in the Zenith” and “Bethanie” draw heavily on the Boards Of Canada rule-book, most of the album's tracks put distance between Principles Of Geometry and its Warp counterpart. If Burn The Land & Boil The Oceans isn't totally cohesive, it at least can be credited for opening up the group's sound into other areas.

May 2012