Sensory Overdub, the brainchild of Stuart Bowditch aka Lachrylic, is one of those albums that defies easy categorization. Just as the titles of its seven pieces alter single letters to evolve (“Fades” to “Hades” to “Hides,” for instance), so too does the Lachrylic sound undergo subtle mutation. To cite one example, “Tacet” initially suggests that it'll develop into a synth-heavy space epic but abruptly shifts gears when a punchy bottom end kicks in to position it within a bass music-styled category.
Atmospheric and expansive, the album's brooding material evokes a dystopic realm via resolutely electronic and synthetic means, Bowditch seemingly unconcerned about warming up the material through the inclusion of acoustic elements. And when an acoustic sound does form part of an arrangement, as occurs when gamelan-styled bell strikes appear alongside skeletal beats and a fuzz-toned bass pulse in “Facet,” the material retains its cool veneer on account of the metallic timbre of the percussive detail.
Lachrylic's electronica persona is reinforced during the ominous “Tacet” in its multi-layered swirl of drum machine and melodic patterns. Here and elsewhere, Bowditch resists any urge to shape the material into a straightforward dancefloor track one could imagine hearing in a club environment. That being said, the powerful bass-throbbing pulse that bleeds through “Fades” does invite a head-nodding response, while “Hides” threads syncopated funk into its intricate sound design.
Elements of ambient and, yes, dub emerge as part of the overall picture, but Sensory Overdub doesn't limit itself to any one genre. Instead, a given piece draws connections to multiple styles as it unfolds. A case in point, there are ambient moments in “Faces” but also allusions to post-rock and dub-techno in the aggressive rhythm treatments that gradually emerge. Ultimately the elusive nature of the album's forty-five minutes suggests that the general characterization of it as electronica is perhaps the safest route to take. Like the track titles, the album's a playful and slippery creature, though also, it should be said, one distinguished by impressive degrees of polish and artfulness.