Seven Ark: Noise of the New
Neo Ouija

Though Justin de Norbrega (Seven Ark) hails from Cape Town, you won't hear much of his South African roots in the eight pieces (nine, including a hidden track) comprising Noise of the New (compared to, say, Alan Abrahams' Portable tracks which clearly evidence traces of his African origins). What you do hear is deep and dramatic IDM with a hip-hop twist, a brand of electronica that calls to mind the equally impressive music of Spezialmaterial's Traject and HP Stonji. Admittedly, the familiar sound of whirrs and clicks raining down upon gentle, melancholy Rhodes and string tones in the opener “Tonal3” isn't new but don't prematurely dismiss Seven Ark as another Autechre clone. With its languidly chilled beats, the second piece, “Sixteen,” for example, finds him crafting finely sculpted hip-hoptronica that's simply beautiful, while the silky tones draped over bouncing ball beats in “Glass Shattering Under Water” is as much reminiscent of Arovane as it is Autechre, with the piece so dreamy and lush the effect is almost poignant. “Floor” is also strong, as its solo acoustic guitar break adds memorable contrast to the song's hip-hop machine clanks. Elsewhere, de Norbrega showcases pinched thrums of pinballing beats, stately symphonic melodies, and pulverized beat splatter. Only on “Some Point Of Departure” does he falter, as the song's beats hiccup and stumble, noticeably dragging the pace as they lag behind the beat but, generally speaking, Noise of the New is enticing electronic sculpting of the first rank.

March 2005