Ten and Tracer: Telecine Bus / Redix Reports
Ten and Tracer: April Kids
One is invariably reminded of Boards of Canada when listening to Ten And Tracer's analog electronica, especially when Jonathan Canupp invests his tracks with the kind of trippy wooziness that's so indelibly associated with the Warp act's output. But more often than not the Denver, Colorado-based Canupp goes his own way by downplaying the psychedelic dimension of the Ten And Tracer sound and emphasing its melodic IDM qualities. The three releases provide an encompassing portrait of Ten And Tracer's classic IDM sound—don't confuse classic with dated, by the way—with the I, Absentee collection, April Kids, a resurrection of material created during the 2000-03 period and the U-cover discs presenting the Ten And Tracer sound in both its 2002-04 and recent forms.
The first half of April Kids re-presents the tracks from the 2003 Japan-only, three-inch release Electric Avenue Chapter 7 and supplements it with unreleased material produced during the same period. In the release's dozen tracks, hazy synth melodies and crisp electronic beats dominate in tracks that Canupp commendably keeps free of extraneous clutter. An occasional voice sample surfaces (as occurs during “No Magic Martin (Cross Reprise),” a third version of the classic track from 2002's An Hour Brighter) but not over-intrusively, and tracks like “Jessica Six” and “East Glacr Plart” roll off the electronic tongue with an effortless, enveloping ease that makes them hard to resist, regardless of one's feelings about the IDM-electronica genre.
Like April Kids, the hour-long U-cover full-length, Telecine Bus / Redix Reports, compiles previously issued (in this case already issued vinyl-only tracks) and unreleased material. Specifically, the opening six tracks originally appeared on the Keylemon Reports twelve-inch, while others come from vinyl releases (An Hour Brighter, Bubble Plus Bus) that other labels planned to issue but didn't for one reason or another. Though some if it extends as far back as 2002, the material sounds as fresh as the day it was born, with Canupp digging deep into a downtempo tip for settings both dreamy (“Two Medicine”) and funky (“Cine Fil (Third Edit)”). At times, a darker vibe seeps into a given song (“Signal Red Volunteers (Version Two),” for example) but generally the Ten And Tracer sound remains breezy and free of portent, as the light-footed outro “Free Agent” indicates. The stylistic similarities between Ten And Tracer and Boards of Canada are again clearly evident in certain songs (“Redix Winter” and “Ledix Winter” could easily have snuck onto Geogaddi without anyone batting an eye). It goes without saying that, with all of their tracks having been produced during the same time period, April Kids and Telecine Bus / Redix Reports are complementary recordings and the quality level of the two matches up as closely as one would expect.
The shortest of the three releases, the three-inch Quotidiennes EP, distances itself radically from the others in style. In contrast to the svelte IDM of the full-lengths, the EP's five tracks feel busier, more hyperactive, and more experimental. Apparently, Canupp created each track in one day and did so by constructing the pieces using completely different methods than usual. In this newer material, there's a greater focus on sound design and texture and less emphasis on melody as the primary element. The biggest departure is “Mother Liquor,” where micro-noises writhe in almost wholly arhythmic manner, while the other four pieces use regulated beat structures to stabilize their explorative meander. If the earlier material indicates kinship with Boards of Canada, tracks like “Nohuref” and “Wimiref” liken this year's Ten And Tracer model to an Autechre-styled outfit with a preference for brevity (only one of the EP's tracks exceeds four minutes). By ending the EP with a slinky snapshot of Chiastic Slide digi-funk, “Gosmaref ” reveals just how far Canupp's Ten And Tracer sound has changed since the early 2000s.