Subtextures - INterchill Records
Released June 19, 2015
By Joel Strauss
This eclectic ensemble of ambient artists from Interchill Records is sure to bring rewards to the contemplative ear, and particularly those people who want to add some spice to their downtime. These tracks work perfectly as both background music and music to sit and really invest oneself in. For these sounds it may take more than one listen to understand the hidden complexities and secrets of the music, but the investment is worth it, because those secrets are gems; hidden treasures. The title Subtextures becomes fitting as a theme for the feel of this music: The textures beyond the textures – the hidden, mysterious layers beneath.
An array of echoed voices is subtly added in the first rack, Atonement by Blome. A nice steady kick comes in to provide groove with a hint of other subtle textures, ones that have been strategically panned - an intentional and rewarding effect. Indeed, a great strength of this album as whole is in its careful production. Those familiar with Biosphere, Tim Hecker and early Aphex Twin (with the latter influence being particularly evident on Jafu’s All Clear in the rhythm section) will find much to appreciate here. The notes of the beat are specially panned to provide a full-scale impact of the sound.
What’s wonderful about this record is that as much thought went into ambiance, atmosphere and mood as into the beats. There are also subtle moments where natural samples, such as water, seem to be included in the mix. Five Rings by Daega Sound begins with vibrant ‘midi tap’ noise that slowly eases into the track, and the listener is lead on a journey of atmosphere and texture, the drums starting and stopping at appropriate times to provide full impact. The voice ‘No matter how far’ echoes in the distance, subtle surprises in texture encompass the rest of the track.
A very nice groove and bass line (again, just as much importance is placed on the beats here) is evident on the track Circular Reason by Dubsworth. One of the most intricate grooves is on Casablaca, one of the few tracks where groove seems to take precedence in importance. Yet the atmosphere is almost as key, and the overall effect is as illuminating as the other tracks.
The track that holds fewer drums, yet is clearly one of the standouts of the whole album, consists of nice open spaces (ones that seemed to take cues from Kid A era Radiohead in the small but strategically placed texture) is Congi, by Pieces Of. A clap is added to the beat to give the beat resonance.
Perhaps the most complicated textures are on the last track, Atlantis by Commit. This track seems to conclude what makes the entire album work: texture, groove, production, intricate panning, subtle samples, an intelligent focus on mood and atmosphere. This is a wonderful album to keep your mind in gear, for reading or studying, or for chilling out and relaxing. Highly recommended for ambient and House music fans.