The workaholic Scotsman returns with another serving of complex ambient electronica. Introverted synth lines mesh with intricate drum programming and layered melodies to create a strangely familiar but rewarding album. It follows on from the recent double album “Emit Like A Prothonotary” and is quite similar in tone, in that it sounds like Dissolved but given a fresh coat of paint and a couple of new keyboards. It doesn’t stray from the territory he has made his own, but a successful formula can’t really be argued with in his case.
Highlights on the album are “Sondrophet” with its dripping synths and dank cave atmospherics, “Gifted Mantis” with its collapsing, barely audible beats and vaguely insectile sound. “Nymphing” which is the bastard offspring of a secret collaboration between Autechre at their most paranoid and Dissolved at his most obtuse, with hectic broken beats and hissy drones. “Glint From An Eprom Oil Shroud” reuses the brilliant kids keyboard sound used in “Fentrostic Girl Storm” (from an earlier release), a sound so innately cheerful that it makes me want to run up to strangers and stick my headphones in their ears so they can be cheerful too. “Needle Rain” is another ambient / industrial mood fest with scattered, invasive and glitchy beats. “New Year Brings An Intracellular Tracer” is my out and out highlight from this album and I put it in the self-invented pigeon hole of hyper-kinetic math-rave. It represents Dissolved at both his most focussed and aggressive and is one of the tunes I would bring out in attempting to convert people to his work.
Moments that troubled me were rare but it’s worth mentioning that I was very intrigued by the opening of “Ideomotor Action Disrupter”, it builds in a clanky and harsh fashion and has all the makings of a Dissolved classic but falls apart under the weight of an unwieldy bassline which is just too much for my delicate ears to process. The only other flaw, and it is very minor, is that just as I was getting into “Lantern For The Myasmic” it uncharacteristically faded away leaving me feeling slightly cheated on this one track. There are also some moments on the album from which you come away slightly unmoved, but they do serve the purpose of breaking the album up and providing light and shade.
Despite having releases in the double figures Dissolved is still making music that while sometimes flawed, is always possessed of dark energy and is always interesting, and for that and innumerable other reasons you should begin getting hold of his older albums and EP’s from http://www.dissolvedamberrooms.com
Finally, I would like to ask and answer the following questions. Is this an exceptional Dissolved album? No. Is it the one I would recommend first? No. Is it free and should that make it an essential download for anyone bothering to read this review? Yes. Is it representative of how good electronica can be in the tired old year of 2009? Yes.