Sunday, 12 August 2012

Review: ASC – Out Of Synch

He’s at it again. Out Of Synch is the third ASC album in the last twelve months, and has been billed as his “return” to 170bpm, or as some sort of successor to 2010’s Nothing Is Certain, the album that finally broke him to a wider audience. I personally don’t see this as much of a stylistic return, because he never stopped making minimalist, moody beat-driven material in the interim, it was merely confined to his EPs. But what I do see it as is another ASC album, and so another reason to get excited.

Predictably, I love this album. I was actually quite surprised by how much I like it – the man has gotta be due a disappointing effort soon, right? Nothing Is Certain was undeniably a very good album, but the one I’ve played the least out of all post-Covert Operations ASC output. Out Of Synch, though, isn’t really a dancefloor album, and it isn’t a drum ‘n bass album. The Autonomic sound is on the outer edge of danceable drum ‘n bass, but while many still associate James Clements with it, he was merely passing through, on his way to post-genre electronic mood music. Out Of Synch contains a couple of techy, rhythmic tracks that could work on a dancefloor, particularly in the second half, but they represent the vertical edge of an upward curve in intensity. Most of the album is much more sedate.

Favourite moments? The dub-techno influenced textures of opener Spheres, the enveloping wash of electronic loveliness that is the fantastically named Oneironaut and the absolutely majestic, haunting masterpiece that is A Song For Hope, the jewel in the album’s dark-hued crown. Waves of electronic static shimmer in the background like cosmic dust before being washed away by murky dark matter pads as a beautiful chanted female vocal echoes through the intergalactic ether. It’s a truly transcendental moment, impossibly vast and sad and utterly mesmerising.

So yeah. It’s a great album (obviously) but it also contains a few standout moments that elevate the overall experience into something truly memorable. The texturology and immersive sound design Clements has honed on his ambient excursions are reapplied here to a more sparse, techy exoskeleton that will probably appeal to the avant-techno aficionados in the building. With yet another album slated for release this year (a resurrection of his Mindspan alias, apparently), I’m beginning to hope he <i>does</i> put out something at least mediocre soon, because I’m worried I’ve become a fanboy who’s incapable of any kind of objective appraisal. ASC could put out an LP consisting entirely of field recordings of clowns being tortured to death, and I would still give it 8/10. You heard it here first.

Genre: Er…
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 9/10

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