out August 4th
It takes a minute to understand how to judge this kind of music. Samples, mixes and mashes, soft, barely there vocals entrenched in noise and layered beneath sounds borrowed from what was thought to be obscurity. What turned out to be merely buried underground and revered with certain concessions about its ultimate artistic validity. Everyone has an influence. Everyone has an inspiration. Nothing is ever original, as is said. Art travels in circles, reconstituting itself through the eyes, ears, and hands of another. There are tweaks and adjustments; an infusing of times, talents and ideas. But underlying, the foundations laid down by others are always to be found. Travis Egedy brings us an example of this kind of circular art with Dark Rift, his current LP under the title of Pictureplane. Quite a few people seem to be taken with this offering of generally relentless and spirited electronica. It's simple and uncluttered. Each track free flows into the other, the connective tissue apparent in Egedy's methods of mixing. While it could be argued that the entire album feels like one long song, there are some stand outs that manage to break the constancy.
The Denverite could be described as glamorous, even romantically so in his approach. Fusing all that restless energy into a kind of potent rattling of emotion constructed around strong synths, woozy vocals and psychedelic rave effects. It's almost as if an offering is being made to the movers and shakers of old, where repetitive and droning house music were Princes among Kings and Queens of R&B and Disco. Dark Rift reads like an ode to the times where reproduced beats could be ingested and regurgitated a hundred times with the end result only slightly different from its predecessor. But just as you suspect you might become bored of the devotion to the formula, there comes a few dramatic twists that spike your interest. It occurs often enough that the album just manages to rest in a place that doesn't suggest that it is a complete and faithful allegiance. Which would be a waste of every one's time. Fleshing out a unique approach to the same has set Egedy's compass swirling around in search of new ways to bring different styles and sub-genres together. Mostly he manages to find his way, with only a few misdirected attempts.
A lot of the journey is taken remembering strobe lights and dark crowded places. Not to bite off of others' sound appraisal, but the evidence is so compelling and strikingly strong it has probably registered in a number of minds upon listening. Tracks like "New Mind" "Time Teens" and "Boys In Blush" smack of early nineties dance juggernauts. In fact "Time Teens" and "Boys In Blush" could very well be two halves of the same song. "New Mind" boasting the legendary device: backing vocals of the female variety generically crooning "You make me feel..." Over. And over. Again.
At times, Dark Rift has the tendency to lull dizzily in the abstract land of undefined electro, resulting in a mind-numbing canvas that Edgedy tossed opening tracks "Trance Doll" and "Solid Gold" up against. They run together messily, interweaving. Bells, piano, bloops, jungle effects, all march together under the same drum, searching for distinction in the listener's ear.
People will point enthusiastically to three distinctive tracks managing to avoid this sort of sameness by a hairsbreadth time and again during evaluation. Those are "Goth Star", "5th Sun" and "Cyclical, Cyclical". The excitement evident in the high-powered gear shift embodied in these droplets of reason dotting the canvas is tantamount to a proverbial ray of light. With effort, Egedy exercises his driving creativity to engage in a battle of smashing, clashing crescendos of sound. Surprises littered nonchalantly throughout (Fleetwood Mac sample, say 'hi'), stomping on your want to be dismissive of his ability to infuse a bit of the unexpected into his mastery of the art.
Thankfully, this album is not so heavy it becomes tiring. While the eleven tracks can start to feel like forever after a while, there are valleys and peaks in the right places that ward off sleepy dismissal. Unsubstantial, low key and breathy one moment, it then hops over the tracks and boards the train fast moving towards a head-trippy party of melded sounds and techniques intended to bring together a respect for the prowess of the old with a mastery of wizardry of the new. Egedy is a wizard, performing tricks. He manages to get it right a great deal of the time, which is comparable to a successful final result. It won't be a favorite or the most memorable. But Dark Rift has registered, and that inevitably bodes well for Egedy.
55-59 Good. This was an enjoyable listen, but ultimately forgettable. (Rating Scale)