Release Date: 2014 July 10
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Label: Dusted Wax Kingdom / BandCamp
I found this downtempo Isostasy by way of Dusted Wax Kingdom, actually found it along with several more releases from MEDL4. After searching around a bit, I found that MEDL4 has quite a few releases on BandCamp. I have to give credit to the Dusted Wax Kingdom crew, they are finding artists that many of us are missing.
So, just what is “isostasy”? It is “Equilibrium in the earth’s crust such that the forces tending to elevate landmasses balance the forces tending to depress landmasses.” according to Wordnik. In reading this definition I take away two important points: (a) that it’s about balance or equilibrium, and (b) that it’s about the earth, or at least the land or ground of our planet.
Which makes a great concept for a downtempo release, in my book. How? First, consider that this is a concept of the earth, basically it is organic in nature. It’s a force of the world around us. And MEDL4 is the type of producer that is driven by old school rhythm and blues, blues and jazz music. All of these forms have a more organic feeling to them than the current overly electronic dance music, including some of the chill type releases.
And there is also the concept of balance. MEDL4 has produced a recording that is to be listened to as a whole, not just individual tracks. Each of the tracks has an internal balance to it, however each one is part of the larger overall recording. That is where a form of equilibrium is achieved, by the balance of all of these pieces put together.
So, then, is there anything about this release that sticks out? Not individually. Sure, one might recognize a few of the samples that are used in places (like the drum loop on the opening release I know from an old Orb recording). But, having any one thing really stand out would defeat the purpose of this release. It’s about things being taken as a whole. It is about achieving a context for each piece where the force it exerts is counterbalanced by the other pieces in the release. In a way, you could say that this is a sixteen piece in suspension.
So how does it work overall? Well, it does work when considered as a whole. You can’t really single out any one track as being more of a focal point than any other, so you have to listen to it as a single continuous work. However, by achieving an equilibrium of sorts, the release can feel as if it doesn’t have a direction. There is nothing really grabbing or pushing the listeners attention along with the piece. There are times where it just feels like you are suspended and don’t have a clue where you are going.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It seems, in a way, to be more like an attempt to reach a ground between downtempo and ambient music. Keep all of the major hooks and rhythms of downtempo, while allowing things to stretch out for you to explore. However, I’m torn between the direction that this release seems to go sometimes, and the times where there doesn’t seem to have a direction. But in the end it is the kind of music I would want to hear in a club or a lounge as opposed to much of the straight EDM out there these days.