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Try Humming This

David Kristian
Beneath The Valley Of The Modulars

David Kristian is one of those electronic music artists who owns literally hundreds of pieces of musical equipment and can be considered a "knob twiddler" in every great sense of the word. Not only does he never sample any other work (he creates everything from scratch on his vast array of components), but he's also intent on not letting anyone else sample his work. I don't blame him either, if I lived my life tangled in a constant jungle of patch cords, putting together just the right combination of things to create an interesting sound, I wouldn't want some hack stealing it just because it sounded cool.

As it states in the booklet to this CD, the material on Beneath The Valley Of The Modulars spans over 4 years in its creation. Not only that, but the more subtle concept at work behind it is that the sounds on the release were "assembled from material based on the common element of voice-like timbres created purely from synthesis." Before you think that this release is going to sound too homogenic, though, just think of how many different sounds you can make with your vocal chords.

After listening to the disc, one might get the feeling that not all the sounds are based on vocal timbres, but upon close listen it's very easy to pull out lots of individual elements that have an eerie man/machine quality about them. In terms of composition, the disc is all over the place, sometimes sounding like Autechre, while other times coming across more like Aphex Twin with little bits of glitch electronics like Pole coming into play. It's very nearly all "intelligent dance music" (which is to say, it has a beat but you can't really dance to it very well) and as mentioned above, it's the sounds that rule.

The opening track, "Stumble Pickwick While I Try Out This Mess" sounds like Stephen Hawking trying to clear his throat (via his voicebox) while a haunting chiming melody plays in the background along with a deadening thump of a beat. He does show off a weird groove in several tracks, including the analog bubble and slide of "<< AV >>," the slightly abrasive beat architechture of "Sound Of Clara," and the more standard beat of "Whippany 2." The best tracks on the disc, though, are the ones where the strange noises get isolated, such as on "Moccasin." Like the aforementioned track, it has a quiet little melody playing in the background while a completely unearthly noise that sounds something like an android cricket might make crawls along over the top of it. It's haunting and interesting and very original. Also, if the super-rich low end warble of "Insihgt (sic)" doesn't give you goosebumps, you'd better give up.

Basically, if you like the above mentioned artists or simply want some electronic music that's a little more challenging than your normal release, Kristian is someone to check out. Not only are the sounds on the disc completely interesting and original, but the tracks are solidly-constructed as well.

Rating: 7.5