Review Summary: Thug Entrancer’s promising electronic debut lingers in a rather frigid terrain.
The album Death After Life
is a two-way street - Ryan McRyhew’s music contains traces of the past, but is firmly rooted in the future. His nuanced electronic compositions provide sincere nods to precursors like Autechre and Aphex Twin, but his cold, calculated beats latch onto a new darkness that spreads with an air of numbness. As Thug Entrancer, McRyhew takes his time in crafting elaborate tracks that capsize emotional appeals for the sake of a more mechanical experience. Within these constraints, Death After Life
churns with an unusual intelligence.
Broken up into eight discrete tracks linked mainly by a common title and a penchant for strange musical expeditions, the album maintains an interesting diversity of ideas while still aiming for a discernible arc. “Death After Life I” introduces the LP with a rich beat that blossoms in the presence of a foreboding ambience. Thug Entrancer possesses a gift for assembling aurally stimulating synthesizers and sonic textures. Perhaps the best example comes with the following track, “Death After Life II”. This track contains several terraces of sound ranging from sequences of moist digital contractions to softer synths that peek out from behind.
Thus, the album’s greatest strength is its shrewd production. Though some tracks become repetitive, the attention to detail unleashes rich circuits of stimulating sonic morsels. While Thug Entrancer succeeds within the nooks and crannies, he struggles forge a bigger picture. Due to the length of certain tracks, his meandering sometimes overshadows his own musical effects. For instance, the fourth track augments itself with time, but relies more on the hypnosis of its groove than taking its sound somewhere unexpected. Even the final track seems like a rehash of the album's preceding ideas. Though this makes for a sufficient conclusion and summation of the album, it’s incredibly anticlimactic.
Nonetheless, Death After Life
is teeming with some truly fascinating rhythms. Thug Entrancer creates a whiplash effect by frequently changing tempos within the bounds of a single song or between completely different tracks, such as tracks five and six. It might not be the most cohesive direction, but it certainly provides variety. Curveballs, like the battery of techno cacophony at the end of “Death After Life III", steer the album into unstable terrain and keep the listener guessing at each turn. In addition, the pulsating progression in “Death After Life VI” proves fairly addictive for the average audiophile.
Although Death After Life
lacks the unity it nominally strives for, the production allows room for many intriguing effects to protrude in the mix. However, these effects never interrupt the slender rhythms at play. These rhythms prefer to operate in a minimalist fashion that permeates several individual tracks. Overall, Death After Life
showcases Thug Entrancer’s eclectic capabilities as a producer, even though it leaves a little to be desired. Still, this thoughtful piece of electronica exhibits impressive proficiency and smoothness.
Death After Life II
Death After Life VI
Death After Life I
Death After Life III