Review Summary: Proof that it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks.
The insanity that was the early nineties electronic scene was a primordial soup of beats and broken sound systems with the birth of so many different sub-genres. Perhaps one of the quietest and most influential of these births was the birth of IDM through Warp Records' Artificial Intelligence series, showcasing four releases that would change the face of music forever. The best representation of this change came through Black Dog Producions' Bytes
may not be as advanced as say Autechre were it shows the reasons why the birth of IDM was so radically different and important. Most of these tracks contains a differing approach to reconstructing familiar concepts in radically different ways. After a seemingly standard opening 'Caz' destroys any preconceptions that 'Object Orient' created, it's eighties aesthetics rebuilt into an intricate display of odd rhythms and pulsing melodies that lose none of the previous decade's atmosphere. The eighties and the nineties are bridged and the record explodes out from there, destroying and creating with merry abandon. Cultural images of ancient Mongolia and today's pop songs are equally deconstructed and re-imagined through music, eschewing all conventional forms of melody for the sake of change, even when it comes to the detriment of the song.
Indeed the single-minded determination that drives Bytes
can become its greatest weakness. The album's fragmentary composition cauterises potentially amazing ideas on some occasions while letting others run on for too long. 'Jauqq' opens with a beautiful melody that is almost immediately faded out to be replaced with repetitive beats and fragments of said melody that never rise back up to the promise that the song started out with. 'Object Orient' on the other hand feels overly repetitive to the point of ridiculousness and functions as a mediocre entry point into Bytes
. At certain points this album does sound too retro for its own good, the very nineties feel perhaps coming too much to the fore in certain tracks, the prehistoric equipment used showing it's age.
That being said though the strength of the songwriting and the spontaneity more than overcome Bytes'
shortcomings. Songs like 'Yamemm' and 'Focus Mel' reveal astoundingly rich and beautiful veins of imagination that, while seemingly fragmentary, make an uncanny amount of sense yet any trace of the welded seams are non-existent. That's perhaps this album's true strength; it's ability to remain logical and focused while appearing to be none of these things allows none of the energy and humanity that sparked it to be lost. It may not always be consistent in this manner but when it is it's nothing short of brilliant.
- Fight The Hits
- Clan (Mongol Hordes)