Ametsub: All Is Silence (Nothings66)
Ametsub’s music has each foot in a different world. On the one hand, it’s electronic music that’s meticulously constructed, but on the other hand it consists largely of samples of objects, acoustic instruments, prepared piano and more. So while the construction of these pieces is undeniably electronic and precise, the organic quality of the sounds herein lends it an earthy, warm vibe. The album flows well, with a pretty consistent mood throughout, which can cause some of these tracks to blend together in hindsight. But this is not to take away from how meticulously it’s assembled and arranged; these pieces are practically flawless. I love the Moogy Boards of Canada-esque synths that float over “Blotted Out,” capturing some of the same majesty that characterized BoC’s first full-length (though I doubt this was the agenda) with some sounds and elements that are distinctly Ametsub’s own, namely a variety of delicate and intricately programmed percussion details. It’s especially nice as a contrast to the fat synth bassline that starts the next track, “Precipice Drive,” the closest thing to techno to be found on this album, a nice rolling groove. “Vestige for a Winded Day” is classic turn of the century IDM in my opinion, a throwback to the handsome melodies of mid-period Autechre and the musicians who followed them (Arovane, Metamatics, Bauri all come to mind). I really like how found sounds evolve from textures into rhythms; check out the undulating, crusty groove of “Over 6633,” with its overhead bird calls and organic surfaces that grow into a steady rhythm. (The massive sub-bass BOOOOM that punctuates the track seems a bit heavy-handed, to me, though, given the lightness of the album overall.) The piano is a key player (no pun intended) across the album, but more often than not it’s via samples of prepared piano, noises made by the guts of the instrument, percussive sounds, etc. Only on “Muffled Blue” does the piano come through nice and clear in the sound of chords as part of the melodic arrangement, in contrast to the skittering glissandi and click-clack of “Dimmur.” The attention to detail and treatment of objects and samples in ways that feel organic and fluid is largely what makes All Is Silence so resonant and delightful — one of my favorites of the year, completely gorgeous.