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Volcano Waves 1-8

Volcano Waves 1-8
(Hefty Records)

One of the beauties of electronic music is that it opens up the sonic palette beyond what most people would consider music and allows those elements to become yet another part of music today. While that sometimes means that you hear some just downright awful music (and believe me, I have), it also makes for some combinations that you just wouldn't hear otherwise. One of these strange combinations is played with in several different ways on this new release by Retina, and fortunately they don't manage to fall into the "annoying as hell" category by doing so.

The tonal range of electronic music will hit you square in the inner ear when the first track, "Agni" starts. A series of super high pitch tones ring out to start things, sending dogs barking and you scrambling for the volume knob if you have things turned up too loud. After awhile, though, the group blends in some lower end pulses until the track builds into an off-kilter rhythm track with weird orchestral bursts and other odd noises. Although it's interesting, the second track "Plinius Observer" is much more effective at combining the two elements, mixing a very cool groove (although it takes awhile to develop) with some more of the high-pitched tones.

On "Camera Magmatica," the group moves the track along with a molasses-thick quagmire of a bass pulse that sounds like a washing machine dryer spinning down with too many clothes inside it in the next room. Steadily, they add little bits of clicks and clacks and squeaks, but the track still feels bottom-heavy with the lumbering grumble. "Piroclastic Flux" sounds like it's going to be nothing more than a weird collection of glitchy blips until a dancefloor pounding beat comes in and manages to tie the whole damn thing together. The group close out the release in the same banging fashion, too. The seventh track of "Insekt" slams along with a chunky beat and ringing hi-hat while odd elements filter in and out of the long track (making it almost sound like something that could have come out during the Plus 8 heyday a couple years back) and the album closer of "Obsidian" steadily adds mechanical sounding elements to the machine-like tromping beat. By the end, it sounds like music that might accompany a nightmare of running through a forest and being chased by something rather sinister.

If the Clicks And Cuts compilation (actually, either of them) made you get all in a tizzy about low end rumbles combined with little bits of spat-out data, the tracks early on in the disc will probably be right up your alley. Later on in the release when things get a little more beat-driven, the group seems to lose a little bit of their focus and especially rhythmically the tracks simply aren't as interesting. The release as a whole has a bit of a darker feel to it, but there are also some interesting things to be found. Not essential, but interesting.

Rating: 6.5