Music Reviews

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Artist: Bit-Tuner
Title: EXO
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: -OUS
Bit-Tuner’s seventh album is an introspective and reflective one, drawing on emotions relating to social and political malaise, but filtering that mood into a pure strain of gentle melancholy that is then expressed in expansive, filmic instrumental electronica.

There’s more than a shade of 90’s-era Tangerine Dream about some of the sounds, particularly the slightly toothy synths of opening track “Slacken”, the gradual build and melody introduced in “Valve”, and most of all in the meandering melody line of “Ghost Light”. But TD-style pulses and faster arpeggios are absent more than they are present, with tracks like “Passage” leaving large amounts of atmospheric empty space, and more discordant synth sounds being allowed into the mix. Found sounds and field recordings add icing and texture, without being as central as on Bit-Tuner’s previous ‘syndrome’ albums.

It’s not all sedate and subdued though. Frustrations are clearly expressed in the crisp percussive drive of “Disbander”, and the broken-cable-style stuttering distorted bass washes of “Averof”.

At only 34 minutes, with most tracks staying under the four minute mark, there are no long electronica journeys here- ideas are expressed with succinct brevity, which at times feels like a shame, as some of these layouts could’ve been enriched by further exploring, which in turn might have helped bring out a more distinctive character. As it is, the result is a very high-quality pack of electronica sketches and environmental portraits that doesn’t quite reach mesmerising levels. Work with filmmaker Joerg Hurschler on animated footage to accompany the live performances is likely to lift it higher though, if you’re lucky enough to be near one of the 2020 shows.



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