Balam Acab: See Birds (Tri Angle)
Alec Koone’s debut appearance as Balam Acab is likely to turn some heads. It’s a gorgeous foray into the darker, slower side of electronic, atmospheric pop, combining various aspects of dub, IDM and dance music into something ethereal and otherworldly. Most of its tracks move with a slow grace, never quite ratcheting up fast enough to qualify for dancefloor utility, but they are not without grooves. “Regret Making Mistakes” has a deep, bobbing pulse in its 4-to-the-floor kick and persistent dubsteppy bassline, while “Big Boy” has a nice warm center to it, a nice spacious melodic IDM track at the core (think Christian Kleine or the City Centre Offices stable). The blogosphere’s alignment of Balam Acab with the faux non-genre of “witch house” seems unfair, because this young artist’s talent transcends a passing trend. Clearly there is more going on here, and I think there’s a glimmer of hope within all of these tracks. He doesn’t seem concerned with being dark or self-consciously spooky, but rather he’s in touch with something more tender, more human. Only on “See Birds (Sun)” does Koone kick up the tempo into a viable dancefloor track, reworking the drowsy mystique of the opening track into something brighter and more nimble. It’s a supremely gorgeous first outing that hopefully points toward more material honoring the promise herein.
Watch/listen: See Birds