Review Summary: Better than Tomorrow's Harvest.
Michael Paradinas never received the attention that his fellow IDMers earned. Sure, he has never put out an album as impacting as Music Has The Right To Children
, Tri Repetae
, or Selected Ambient Works 85-92
, but he deserves the attention all the same. Maybe not solely for his work under the ų-Ziq name, but as the runner of the brilliant Planet Mu
label Paradinas has consistently helped put out groundbreaking work from too many artists to count, ranging from a good chunk of Venetian Snares's best work to some of Benga's early genre-defining dubstep. That isn't to detract from the actual musical output of ų-Ziq, which has been consistently solid and at times reaching the greatness of the producers whose shadows he works within. Unfortunately, most of his best and truly outstanding personal output lies within his early work, and while his latest releases are at the very least interesting, they've typically failed to capture the mesmerizing charm that defines his best albums. His Somerset Avenue Tracks (1992-1995)
compilation that was put out in late February this year compiled unreleased work from the titular era, and it managed to out-shine a good bit of his work in the last 15 years or so. It's a risky move for ų-Ziq to release Chewed Corners
so shortly after such an obvious display of his early talent, as comparisons between the two are inevitable. Good news though, because one listen to Chewed Corners
will completely explain ų-Ziq's confidence. Chewed Corners
is Paradinas's best and most inspired work since the 90s.
Most of the work on here is rooted in the calculated restraint that defines Autechre's most captivatingly hypnotic work, and yet it's ų-Ziq's willingness to let up on that restraint that makes Chewed Corners
the gleefully indulgent piece that it is. Specifically, central track “Houzz 10” seems to work as the standout of the album. The track just feels ready to burst at any moment, firing on all cylinders from the word “go” with a simplistic and infectious piano melody that feels like it's on the brink of collapse the entire time, running the forefront of the track's dense melodiousness until it finally fades back out into the more controlled tracks that surround it. Although “Houzz 10” runs the risk that standouts always do of being the track that the rest of the album fails to live up to, it works instead more like the climax of a great movie – and Chewed Corners
is undeniably a cinematic affair. There's a consistent energy and passion that can be found on the most routine tracks of the album, but the frantic pacing and uneasy fragility of “Houzz 10” wouldn't be so memorable and startling if it wasn't surrounded by the blissfully chilled-out retro-futurism of tracks like “Twangle Melkas” or the smooth, sparkling melodies that dominate “Mountain Island Boner”.
lands itself in a unique field of IDM, though bits and pieces of it are borrowed from the familiar, the most obvious of which is its machine-like percussion that Autechre and Aphex Twin used as a backbone for their best creations. But the striking difference comes from how energized, dense, and modern the overall aesthetic is. The synth-work is usually more colorful and always more bombastic than what's typically expected out of the genre, though the album is still rhythmically entrancing with its percussive precision – which has also received a modern upgrade. Little hints of the influence of Planet Mu
's members can be found in the half-time swing of “Monyth”, the stuttering hi-hats of “Christ Dust”, and the futuristic glow of the neon-streaked textures. And while the sounds present here seem to all be from the same palette, the similarities work to unify the album rather than make it feel homogenous thanks to ų-Ziq's ability to capture so many different feelings with them. “Taikon” is eerie, “Hug” is calming, and most surprisingly “Weakling Paradinas” is downright ecstatic and the perfect sendoff for an album that's such a triumph.
If Music Has The Right To Children
deserves mounds of praise for its ability to evoke nostalgic moods and memories, Chewed Corners
deserves the same for its ability to create new ones. In a year where Boards of Canada and Autechre have both released brand new albums, it would be easy and understandable to skip over ų-Ziq's latest. But it would also be a very big mistake.