Irish dubstep/electronica musician Barry Lynn may not receive the critical and somewhat-commercial attention that his dubstep contemporaries Burial and Pressure may receive, but that doesn’t that Lynn’s albums are any less poignant and brilliant. Oneiric
is Lynn’s debut as Boxcutter, and it manages to be that kind of debut that smashes all that you previously thought about a genre and puts a different perspective on what you loved before. Burial’s beautiful Untrue
seems almost stale after a listen to this stunning melting pot of musical improvisation, jungle simplicity, and IDM-production. It’s that good.
From the ominous opening creaks that begin “Tauhid” to the low, swooping electronics of “Mossy”, Oneiric
is anything but an easy listen. In fact, this genre-busting release is mostly very unsettling. Lynn relies on more vibrant basslines and violent drums more than ambience, giving Oneiric
a very IDM-ish feel. “Grub” may be the most violent track of them all, featuring dozens of keyboards layered to create a truly breathtaking soundscape of screeching noise, heavy bass, and brief breaks of soothing effects, while loud drums underlay the smorgasbord of electronics. Midway through, the music eventually catches up with itself and reduces into an industrial-ish breakdown; just before Lynn picks himself back up again and fills the remaining three minutes with swishing keyboards and a beat that could have easily been stolen from a Boards of Canada experiment.
But if Oneiric
was as violent and as intense as tracks such as “Grub” and “Brood”, with its stop-start jungle beats and screaming synths, then it may be too much to take. That’s why Lynn smartly balances the destruction with moments of calm, ambience, and even soul, believe it or not. “Bad You Do”, which is easily one of the highlights of the album, takes a pristine soul sample, places on top of a sluggish yet irresistibly shiny smogasboard of ambience, chimes, and alternating keyboards. The rhythm section is filled out with a drum and bass beat that Amon Tobin could have written, and an irresistible funky bass sound that seems like an actual human played it, and not robots. “Chlorophyll” is even more calming, with ear-popping bass that never really speeds up, scratchy synths that are again reminiscent of IDM tracks, and samples of crickets chriping. Nothing is more fuc
king calming than the sound of crickets chirping.
main strength is its innovativeness. It’s easily the freshest album that I’ve put inside my computer for the past few months, and for good reason. It may be the best produced dubstep album released this decade that wasn’t by a guy that goes by the name Burial: every single break, beat, and crunchy keyboard riff is expertly analyzed and produced, and some of these songs are even danceable (such as the crunchy “Brood”) because of their pristine production. Hell, I could go on forever about how great this album is, from “Give Dub”, which mixes dub and soul so beautifully you almost want to cry; to “Sunshine V.I.P.”, where Lynn injects a little jazz and some truly remarkable and pretty random flute solos into the already combustible formula of the intense dub/jungle blend. But it’s better if you just go and pick up this beauty yourself.