Tudor Acid: Chronial
Richard Wigglesworth fashioned his latest Tudor Acid collection Chronial—so named because all nine of its tracks were written in chronological order during 2014 and because it functions as a year-long chronicle—with the idea in mind that its music should be accessible to all and that no one should require a deep knowledge of electronic music to appreciate it. On such terms the album succeeds, not so much because it is so accessible but more because its content is so visceral. Yes, Wigglesworth's melodic, ambient- and electro-enhanced techno can be analyzed down to the tiniest detail, but the listener who chooses to simply bask in Chronial's dynamic splendour will derive no small amount of pleasure from the experience, too.
Though the initial tracks are fine, the seventy-four-minute set really hits its stride during the second half, specifically from the fifth track, “Skyrad,” on. Chronial's a bit of a slow-builder in that regard, as the melodic tracks with which it gets underway pave the way for the later epics. That said, the opener “Conci” certainly shows how multi-dimensional the Tudor Acid sound can be in the way Wigglesworth layers one glassy synth phrase on top of another, and the one that follows, “Gain 8,” effectively demonstrates his skilful integration of melody and dance rhythms. The typical Tudor Acid cut has plenty of rhythmic drive, but it's also ravishing on sound design terms, a dimension nicely exemplified by “Stics,” which incorporates drum samples built from twigs Wigglesworth gathered at a local park.
It's no accident that the strongest tracks are also the ones that Wigglesworth lets stretch out the longest: “Skyrad” closes in on ten minutes and the subsequent “Thied” and “UL404” both push past it. Up first, “Skyrad” dazzles the listener with a cycling array of keyboard melodies and beats that swells into a swirling trance-techno set-piece, while “Thied” quickly lays to rest any question regarding Wigglesworth's ability to produce a thunderous groove-driven workout. The thirteen-minute closer “UL404” drapes a gleaming organ-styled pattern across a light-speed backdrop, the contrast between the slow keyboard melody and the frenetic rhythm design one of the most arresting things about it.
In Wigglesworth's own estimation, the writing of “Skyrad” was a turning point in the album's development because at that stage he “realized that the tracks were writing themselves.” The comment is especially telling in the way it highlights the organic quality of the material, the way in which Chronial's tracks feel so natural in their manner of unfolding.