Review Summary: A short but powerful soundtrack for space travel
Listening to Galactics
, the debut extended play by bansheebeat, brings about a plethora of comparisons to the mid 90's boom of the often controversial genre tag of idm. It's an obvious love affair that, while wearing its heart a little too prominently on its sleeve, delicately maneuvers past simple idol worship and into its own little corner. Comparisons to such distinguished luminaries as Autechre and Boards Of Canada are easy to grasp onto, but rather than just tying himself down into the stereotypical cliches of the genre, bansheebeat handles his music with a modern flair; looking back while moving forward, he falls more into the revivalist scene populated by the likes of Nosaj Thing and Shlohmo. His music is dreamy, trippy and spacey, soft and reflective; not immediate, just immediately hypnotizing. At times it's almost cushioning, while at others it acts like a gentle nudge; sometimes it acts as both, like a guiding hand leading you past the velvet curtain into the worlds that are always, seemingly, just beyond reach.
Opener 'Above The Stratosphere' is more of the same subtle magic as strings slowly buffet the twinkling keys and chimes, all of it topped off by a smile-worthy dip into pixelated 8-bit waters. The only drawback here is that compared to the ornate sparseness of what's to come it comes across as almost sensory overload, as various sounds and motifs do battle for ultimate purchase. As if realizing this, 'Neurotransmitters' begins on a more barren note, driven initially only by the powering smacks of the back beat. It soon opens up, but it does this by letting the floor give way beneath its feet; it's in that small reprieve where the track delightfully coasts along under its own steam that it really hits its stride. When the percussion finally does return and drops its anchor once more, there's a twinge of sadness when the track cycles back to its beginnings and continues down the same path, walking in its own footsteps. What could have been great sadly ends up as simply good at the almost reluctance to just let the track slowly float away. 'Hydraxis' is a collision, a coming together of everything already established. All of banshee's motifs and sounds are lined up and destroyed in more of the same retro glory already shown earlier, and to slightly better effect. It's still an intensely interesting experience to hear though, as he still manages to tease calmness out of an almost intangible maelstrom (a chaotic sound bought on by the almost thunderous percussion slowly dying). Closer 'First You Must Invent The Universe' (the entry that bears the most comparison to those quintessential barren landmarks of the 90's) rides a fine line between grayed-out techno and ambient lullabies, its key work only ever so delicately carried under the weight of an almost non-existent percussion set. It handles the tremendous weight of being the final remarks for this young artist with such aplomb and simplicity, as an almost natural progression slowly unfolds itself out of the dusty recesses of the 90's and slowly turns itself into darker territory.
As a debut effort, and one that was more than likely put together at no cost, Galactics
is more than just a solid listen. It's a little rough around the edges, and yes it only takes a few seconds to work out the repeating pattern that appears in every track, but it more than accomplishes the task that every electronic laptop musician is striving for: it pulls off that rare trick of turning a simple listen into an almost psychedelic and image heavy environment. When your familiar surroundings melt away and you find yourself in some place rather strange, yet somehow, safe at the same time. To fall onto stereotype, it does take you on a journey. Or to be precise, it pulls you into one, like a black hole slowly sucking you in. But this trip is a gentle one, almost serene even. But it doesn't quite pull you through to the proverbial "other side", it merely shows you it from a distance and lets you decide how close you wish to get. And to be honest it's all the better for it.
bansheebeat is the musical project of Sputnik user TheReverend724. Galactics can be (legally) downloaded here