Friday, April 20, 2012

En - Already Gone (Students of Decay, 2012)

Countless parallels have been drawn between music circles and scenes and the development of technology, and while it may be arbitrary to contribute to that banality, experimental music may have it the easiest. Turning their heads away from structure, recently established ambient artists have seen fit to have their work carried entirely by electronics. This is far from criticism, for the technological ease has spawned new directions and widened parameters for projects of this ilk. Debuting just two years ago, the West Coast duo En have already left an impressionable mark on the work of their contemporaries.

Though Already Gone is only a sophomore release for them, Maxwell August Croy and James Devane have honed their methods to a proportion commonly reached by much longer-spanning endeavors. It takes great consideration to produce an opener as brief and fulfilling as "Lodi", in which koto provided by Croy flutters gracefully as Trevor Montgomery (of Lazerus, The Drift) sustains a pulsing undercurrent of bass. The gentle cadence dissipates on "The Sea Saw Swell" that, as its title would lead a listener to envision, blissfully tilts on Devane's lulling drone while acoustics swirl into mesmeric patterns.

Even more amorphous is the title track, a resonant ascent into honeyed bliss. Keys quiver, sparse plucks summon warm harmonics, and bowed strings cry to wring out the euphoria to a bare conclusion. "Elysia" consumes the whole of the second side as such an enveloping monolith should. A descending elegiac arpeggio pigments desolate field recordings, and sequenced clusters of looped koto encircle the billowing milieu. Opaque electronics peek through and accumulate distortion with growth and swallow the arrangement in sibilance. A glum refrain takes the noise's place, returning to the barren melancholy of its roots.

As the experimental coterie approaches saturation, Already Gone overlooks the melting-pot of pensive pedal hoarders. Croy and Devane steep their peers' conventions in detail and innovation. Comparable to Stars of the Lid and Yellow Swans before them, En's separate modules could formlessly meld without effort, but dynamics as intricate as these come about only through deep collective pondering. Whether used as a sedative or an aural expedition, the album's astonishing textures remain indubitable.

[En Website]
[Stream/Buy Already Gone from Students of Decay]

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