Vetrix: Sun Oblique
Pyramid Transmissions

Vetrix's Sun Oblique is classic IDM delivered with all the love and sincerity that the genre's earliest practitioners brought to their own productions. Not a trace of irony surfaces in the dozen electro-tinged tracks comprising this sophomore album from Lisbon-based sound designer Nuno Soczka, whose introduction to electronic music came about during the ‘90s when he discovered IDM and drum'n'bass following teenage stints in grunge and punk bands.

Not surprisingly, Sun Oblique variously calls to mind acts such as Plaid and The Black Dog but, most of all, Boards of Canada. With its melding of melodic splendour and intricate beatsmithing, a track such as “Aquatic Ape” shows that Soczka's style is not terribly unlike that of his better-known Warp counterpart. Immediately establishing the album's invitingly warm vibe, “Bi-Polen Numbness” finds radiant synth melodies gliding gracefully overtop a relaxed glitch-funk base. The also-funky “Time Non Sense” digs into a heavier bottom end while also making room for intricate melodic syncopation in its melodic design. An occasional voice effect or film sample (e.g., “Casulis Reflexis”) adds contrast to Vetrix's otherwise fully instrumental sound, and, in the case of “Novandroida” brings the Vetrix sound even closer to Boards of Canada's. On a more languorous tip, “Progressive Solitude” and "Dreaming Again" serenade the listener with kaleidoscopic dreamscaping, while “R-Takt” mixes things up a bit by first introducing a downtempo, hip-hop feel and then shifting into a rhythmic style more akin to jungle-styled drum'n'bass.

Soczka brings a human face to what in another less skilled producer's hands might end up sounding cold and sterile. What elevates his Vetrix tracks, on the other hand, is not only the presence of his own self-created VST synthesizers but an unabashed embrace of warmth and melody and relatively straightforward approach to compositional form. That penchant for melody is nowhere more evident than during “L'existence,” which is so pretty is would work perfectly as a lullaby were it not for the presence of its beat pattern and expansive atmospheric touches.

June 2011