On first listen, Miniatures simply didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. By this point in the game, I already know that a release on Rune Grammofon isn't going to simply offer an easy listening experience, but this newest work from Alog simply didn't seem to stick out to my ears amongst the littered landscape of laptop electronics that have deluged my ears over the course of the past couple years. With some releases, I never get over that hump, regardless of how many times I listen to the release, but with Miniatures there was a moment that clicked and suddenly it made a lot more sense.
That's not to say that it's a difficult release by any means. It's more like viewing one of those fractured photos that requires one to stare with cross eyes in order to see. Upon first viewing, it may seem like lots of scattered patterns that don't really fit together, but there is a point at which the whole thing weaves together in your mind and it seems to all fit. Unlike some of their more loping earlier releases (Red Shift Swing and Duck-Rabbit), this release starts with a flourish on "Severe Punishment And Lasting Bliss" as overlapping patterns of fractal electronics zoom over one another while subdued roars of guitar feedback swirl underneath. The track components are fairly simple, but the track unfolds in a lovely way that recalls minimalist work by the likes of Steve Reich or even Philip Glass.
"Steady Jogging Of The Heart" continues the theme of racing electronic glints as flickering pieces meld with single note guitar string plucks and street noise filters in through the backdoor. "St. Paul Sessions II" opens with a repeated guitar riff but soon piles on layers of chimes and more plucked strings in a way that suggests real movement even though that same guitar riff repeats throughout the entire song. After the absolutely gorgeous "The Youth Of Mysterious Conversations," the album starts to go through some very subtle shifts as electronic layers seem to peel back to reveal more organic ones.
"Pesce Spada" mingles layers of flickering chimes with clipped squeals of feedback in delightful ways, but "Buffalo Demon" takes things back much further, mixing rattling kitchen-sink percussion with the field recording of a market. The album-closing "Building Instruments" seems to drop almost all the electronics entirely, mixing more field recordings with flute, accordion, and some strums of guitar, recalling the found-sound folk work by Alejandra And Aeron on their Bousha Blue Blazes release. With their amazingly consistent and inventive output over the course of the past couple years, Rune Grammofon has easily moved into one of my top positions in terms of labels and their output.