Review Summary: Life distilled in music form.
You can always tell when an artist has been making music from a very young age. They're not necessarily more technical or ambitious, instead there's often a uniquely effortless aspect to the music they make. Tracks progress fluidly, showing no drop in form or immediate transitions to put a dent in the immersion. Everything, you could say, is in its right place. Having experimented with electronic music as far back as age 8, Secede
is one such artist. His debut full-length, Bye Bye Gridlock Traffic
, acts as a release valve for all the pent-up expression he'd been holding onto until that point and, as a result, is one of the most vibrant and colourful albums anyone could hope for.
In addition, one could use this to argue that Bye Bye Gridlock Traffic
comes off as quite childish. Not in its execution but rather in its adolescent mixture of gloomy ambiance and giddy, electronic happiness, with the evident creativity that seldom few adults possess. For instance, the title track's energetic, dynamic nature eventually succumbs to the confined, glitch-ridden atmosphere in Say I Said So
. This effect is only built upon by the warmth emanating from the album, adding a distinctly human element. Considering that his childhood revolved around electronic music it's unsurprising, though in no way unremarkable, that this is the case.
While the labels of "childlike" and "human" may invoke comparisons to similarly described musically-unsure artists and groups, the sleight of hand evident in Bye Bye Gridlock Traffic
puts these to rest. At multiple points in the album, Secede demonstrates his ability to drastically alter the dynamics of a track by simply changing one seemingly unimportant thing in the background. This is best shown in Depart & Arrive
, where the addition of only a few well-placed drum beats per bar transforms a slow, atmospheric march into something much more insistent and progressive. This musical dexterity, with the ability to incorporate new styles and influences without detracting from a track's sense of flow, is just one of the things which makes listening to Bye Bye Gridlock Traffic
Another is the sheer scope of the album: soundbites from Star Treck
to Back to the Future
become distorted and borderline disturbing in the context of the music behind them. Greetings Twinsunian
sees clean strings and woodwinds playing off against record-scratching and Big Day Out
personifies the ultimate, macabre horror-movie soundtrack in it's oppressive, yet innocent, nature. The full spectrum from fast-paced, multi-layered spurts to drawn out, dark-ambient epics is on display. Somehow maintaining a collective atmosphere while exploring contrasting methods.
Bye Bye Gridlock Traffic
may not match the strong direction of Secede's
more recent work, but as such a pure form of artistic expression it doesn't need to. It could even be said that the album is more powerful for it. Rarely will you glimpse this level of creativity and, at the same time, one that feels so distinctly human.