Review Summary: homeostasis
Mastery and spontaneity rarely, if ever, coexist in full form; but, both can be conveyed to varying degrees in tandem. Reversion
is the latest effort from Peter Tran (paired with visual artist Deirdre Smith: Curved Light), and continues the Texan’s efforts to pay respects to the possibilities of analog and modular synth. Whereas Curved Light’s previous efforts have a more expansive - and one might accuse, undecided - quality, Reversion
is in equilibrium. It was allegedly recorded in one take, and one can’t help but wonder the disposition of a musician before a single-take effort. Maybe it's the most honest mood-to-sound conveyance possible, in which case Tran was likely on the outskirts of repose, but sustained with musical fortitude. It’s tricky to describe the emotive power in something so vaguely blissful, yet mechanical. Tran’s sound succeeds largely because it balances formidable tones with a carefree aura, carried by a wide variety of rhythms and techniques. It’s one of 2017’s first great electronic full-lengths, and makes it look easy.
Perhaps too easy, as much of Reversion
’s magic is unassuming. It’s impressive that Tran was able to stack each song so delicately in one go, and they’re all the more organic for it, though one suspects little tweaks could’ve amped the quality. There are occasional missteps: the pitter-patter in the midpoint of “Test Selection” is a bit irritating, though short-lived; the meandering synths at the end of “Collapsing Reflection” have the melodic identity crisis of an amateur bagpiper; the triplet in “Disquiet” is questionably similar to part of the Stranger Things
opening theme. These are mostly fleeting quibbles, though, as the majority of Reversion
is captivating. Highlight “Blush Response” evokes futuristic-ancient folklore (think early-gen Final Fantasy
) and a lush, sprawling forest, in which Tran seems to be ascending to utter zen. Even relatively tame numbers like “Absent Empathy” are texturally fascinating, with undulating drones segueing into catchy bass lines, and synths that descend like a much-needed rain fall. This is the type of album that could be completely different with each rendition, and, coincidently, this current version could be interpreted a bit differently with each visit. Upon an eight listen (or ninth or tenth or whatever), many of the above descriptions could be supplanted by new ones. Hopefully that’s a good thing, and testament to Curved Light's MO.