It's interesting that this album came out back in 1998, because it draws a very strong resemblence to another very solid IDM release from that year. Also by a duo, Music Has The Right To Children. by Boards Of Canada was a solid and inventive release that jumped from dark to fun and had plenty of quirkiness to boot. As much as I hate to directly compare albums, Beutronics has much of the very same things going for it that made the above mentioned album so damn enjoyable. Not only are the tracks alternately happy and dark, but the duo has put together some very very interesting sounds on what are probably some seriously vintage instruments. There are thick, warm gurgles of electronics that bubble up from the bottom of tracks like ooze from a tarpit and soft, floating sounds that feel like they rode in on the tale of a comet.
Coupled with a penchant for writing short, catchy tracks, this album of 16 tracks (7 of which are called "tint" tracks and act much like short segues between longer pieces, much like the "bolts" on the Black Dog album Spanners). If none of the above makes sense for you, let me explain a bit. The disc starts off with a rich warm buzz on "Vosill" and the track soon has a loping beat that glides along under multiple layers of chirps and a simple, but pretty keyboard melody. The second track on the disc (and one of the above mentioned "tints" ("Tint1 - Barely Barley," actually) runs only about one and a half minutes and is comprised of a wet beat and another simple little melody. It's gone before you know it and then the album is on again.
The album basically continues on like that for its entirety, with never more than two "songs" or two "tints" in a row, it also manages to change things up well and keep sounds fresh. The nice thing about most of the "tints" is that they're really not filler material at all and some of them stand up right alongside the actual longer pieces on the disc. "Tint2- Rosy Apples" scoots along with an almost tribal sounding, hollow beat and droning keyboards and voice samples while "Tint6 - Cheeky Cherry" drops a cut-up kiddy voice sample over a blipped-out beat. The only problem I have with it is that it actually ends too quickly. Throw in the grimy analog sounds (coupled with light electronic pulses) of "Skeek" and the dark atmospherics of "Iam Twisq," and this album is quite a solid release.
If you like Boards Of Canada or even the lighter moments of Autechre, you owe it to yourself to check out this release by ISAN. I feel bad that I've actually seen their name around so long, but took my time in actually getting something of theirs, as it's another very solid IDM release and shows that groups are putting out great stuff that rivals work done on bigger labels like Warp. Now I just need to find some more of their releases.