Glitch-happy electronic compositions from North Carolina. I'm down.
Gabriel Godwin, aka Rana Vasa, began playing music at a young age, living by his own motto, "Give me an instrument and I will write some music eventually." Rad. He composed Early Attempts at Flight using the Korg DS-10 software for the Nintendo DS. I'll do my usual bit of copy and pasting when I do not understand the recording process but feel it bears special mentioning. Hey, if it were a requirement for critics to know what they're talking about, how much do you think would really get reviewed?
"DS-10 is an emulation of the 70's Korg monosynth with the addition of Kaoss pad capabilities and a 4-channel drum sequencer. From there the not so easy task of multi-tracking audio went into Pro-Tools for additional tracking, mixing and mastering. The Nintendo DS has only a stereo headphone jack so each track had to be played alone, recorded etc. then all of the individual tracks must then be re-synced inside PT. A very time consuming task. I was responsible for every step of the process and it was all done in my own home studio."
Sounds like a pain, but to my ears the payoff is worth it.
The compositions combined elements of glitch, techno, synth rock and pop (yes, there's a difference) to create an album that undulates in measured feeling. "Heavy Equipment" captures the monotony of mechanic autonomy with its clanking rhythm and static beats. "Ice Temple" recalls the glory days of 2-D adventure games (Zelda, most obviously) with its soft tinkers, frosty breaks and low-key synth hooks. "Laughing Bear," a personal favorite, keeps the synth line oscillating while a hand clapping-like samples fill in the space as higher and higher frequencies enter the pop attempt.
Many of the songs carry personal meaning for Godwin. "Chase Scene," for example, captures the intensity of car chase scenes, albeit far more adorably than M83. "Requiem for Phobos," and I quote, "was inspired by the fact that Mars' moon Phobos is in a state of orbit decay and it is unknown if the moon will impact with the planet or if it will be ripped apart by gravitational forces as its orbit decays and thus become a ring of debris much like one of the rings around Saturn." Damn, this kid has his act together, and you can tell how much feeling he puts into his efforts. Rarely do the tracks stray into senselessly long numbers, and each sound fulfills a function in the song. There are missteps of course, but nothing to really complain about. Perhaps I'm not in the mood for adventurous electronic music or maybe a particular beat pattern rubbed me the wrong way.
The album closes with "Early Reflections," the best track on the album and most mature. It sounds like a mid-tempo, chip tune take on a Beach House song but damn is it good. Funky rhythms and baroque synth hooks fill the song and create its militant beat, giving it a more pressurized feel than any other track on the album. It's a stunner of a closer, and makes me curious to see what else Godwin has to offer.
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