Release Date: June 12th, 2013
License: CC BY-SA
This is one of the reviews that I am long overdue in writing. The reason for this is quite simple: life got in the way. And, it’s really shameful that it did get in the way of me writing about this release, because I have enjoyed listening to quite a bit.
The release starts off with Double Helix which is built around a simple sequence based structure that constantly unfolds before your ears. Like a constantly ascending ladder, which is about as perfect of an audio representation of a double helix as can be imagined. But what I really love about the piece is that puts me back into the old-school Vangelis or Klaus Schulze style of analog synthesizer music, which is still very dear to me.
And, the other thing about Double Helix is that it sets the overall framework for the pieces on elevenandtwelve extremely well. Most the pieces build off some small fragment, a repeating sequence that gradually grows and shifts. Very much along the lines of the ambient minimalist works of Steve Reich or Phillip Glass. So, if I were to describe this recording it would be like this: A down-tempo, trip-hop style meets old school electronic sequencing in structures inspired by the ambient minimalists.
The nice thing about elevenandtwelve is that it isn’t just a proof-of-concept release. These pieces float through your listening space with ease, with an air of effortlessness that might lead even non-musicians to thing they could achieve the same thing. However, that’s the real trick and a real genius of this release: a subtle complexity that isn’t easy to accomplish.
nisei23 is obviously not satisfied in proving that these style can be fused together. Instead, the pieces are mature, fully-realized compositions. Each piece grows and moves in structure and texture. They aren’t wandering around aimlessly trying to find a resolution, the resolution is part of the structure and development of each line. The structure of the pieces all but disappears beneath the texture and fusing of elements. All of this is well-framed by the titles of the pieces: The Return, The Departure, Leviathan 2, etc.
And this is what makes this release cross the line from being a good release to being an excellent release worthy of multiple listens. On one level you can feel the music through it’s textures. On a second level you can listen to the minimalist elements, and feel yourself moving along with each piece. And you can listen again, and discover the underlying structural elements and marvel at how well they are developed. And there is more layers to the composition of these pieces that bear multiple listens. I feel as if I have scratched the surface of each of the pieces, and yet I can listen to them over and over, and discover more about them in different contexts.
I can only recommend this release so much without sounding like I am being indulgent in doting on it. But, then again, I think with a critical listen it bears up to the not only the deconstruction of it’s components, but also the praise I have been heaping on it. Definitely a release that has made my permanent collection for my current and future enjoyment. And that, hopefully, is enough reason for readers of this review to get a copy of this release. It’s well worth the download, and hopefully it will find a place in your permanent collection as well.
A final note about one oddity with this release. Some of the MP3 headers are slightly messed up. Some of them report incorrect encoding bit-rates, which causes music players to display the track times incorrectly. For example, track number four (Animus Anima) claims to be encoded at 32kbps, with a playtime of 35:04. It’s obviously incorrect, the encoding is really 320kbps, and the play time is approximately 3:50. I don’t know if this happened during the original encoding of the tracks, or if the tracks were re-encoded for release. But this doesn’t affect the playback of the files, nor does it lessen the enjoyment of the tracks in the slightest.