Kuedo: Severant (Planet µ)
I never would have guessed that the two members of snarly dubstep duo Vex’d would each release albums that have made it onto my favorites of the year. I liked myself some Vex’d now and then, but that sort of sinister wobble-bass dubstep sound wears on me easily. I hadn’t heard anything from them since 2005’s Degenerate, and, not surprisingly, much has changed both in terms of the musical landscape at large as well as the respective members’ output. I already made a post about Roly Porter’s superb Aftertime album, a dark, cinematic experience. Jamie Teasdale’s solo music is quite different, about as far from Vex’d or from Roly Porter’s sounds as can be. The initial confident synth tones of “Visioning Shared Tomorrows” feels undeniably influenced by Vangelis and specifically his timeless score to Blade Runner. This highly melodic sensibility, with leads that loosely recall brass or strings without hiding their synth origins, carries throughout Severant. Teasdale’s snarly dubstep roots only come through tangentially through skittery hihats and deliberate, crisp halfbeat patterns, but otherwise this is a different universe, sounding both aspirational and celestial while suggesting a certain nostalgia for the sci-fi future of the past. It’s best heard as a whole batch of music rather than one-off tracks, though sampling bits of the album will give you an idea of what to expect. But its strength is in cohesion and completeness, with little ethereal interludes helping to advance the story while Teasdale’s knack for melody and deceivingly simple tunes (with more happening in the details than initially meets the ears) fleshing it out quite nicely. It’s become a favorite of mine since I picked it up a while back, definitely in my best of 2011.