(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, November 8, 2010

CD review - The Glitch Mob, Drink the Sea (2010)

Like a lot of electronic music, Drink the Sea edges into your consciousness as a sort of soundtrack to whatever's going on around you. Soon enough, though, it starts to provoke mental images and moods. Like a video game, the experience is immersive, consuming, and surrealistic. The Glitch Mob use a number of tools to get these effects, but their strongest trick is the tidal feel to their arrangements. They instinctively achieve a balance of ebb and flow: retreating break downs punctuate the harder driving hooks.

All of the tracks are strong, but A Dream Within a Dream is a small sonic masterpiece. It suggests a narrative, with cinematic scenes. A garden sparkles with chirping synthesizer birds, then the scene cuts to action. Foot fall drums are on the move, suggesting a mission. Like the Matrix, there are slow motion freezes, where there's a chance to take in the surroundings before speeding back into mission mode. Another cut scene, this time to a new character: a woman moves sinuously. Like a cubist painting, her approach fragments and is repeated. Now, a moment of quite clarity and the opening garden is back. The POV is looking down from on high and the patterns become clearer before it dissolves back to the components of the mission and the mysterious woman...

Well, that's the movie in my mind. This is music that inspires very personal responses.

Between Two Points features singer Swan on vocals. It's moody and glitchy, with a Euro jazz feel. Swan's voice is reflective but playful. The sensual bass line swirls around the vocal, while the background is full of artifacts and cool sounds. A metaphorical geometry lesson? A drifting tease? Either way, it acts as an ebb between the giant robot groove of Fistful of Silence and the dance club electro of We Swarm.

With an album this evocative, it's hard to single out songs. And then the Glitch Mob drop a bomb for the last track. Starve the Ego, Feed the Soul hits my sweet spot. The intro is meditative and psychedelic. The chord pattern is set, the melody comes in and meanders effortlessly. An organ tone warbles its paisley contribution...then the beat drops and harnesses the flow. The electronic and glitchy elements start rising, but the drifting, trippy vibe persists. There's a holy repetition that builds a raga feel. Ultimately, the merging of electronic and organic sounds create a kind of satori.

Some audiences reject electronic music, blaming sterility and boredom. Drink the Sea is anything but sterile. The Glitch Mob has the bass heavy beats and techno vibe that's anchored in the dance club, but they transcend those roots to create a great listening experience. Rosewater feels like the dominant flavor that comes to mind - exotic, intense - maybe a Rosewater Rickey.

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