Music Reviews

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Artist: Ran Slavin
Title: Digital Junkies In Strange Times
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Crónica (@)
Delving deep into the laptop, “Digital Junkies In Strange Times” is a genre-ignoring collection of electronic ambiences that draws ethereal samples shamelessly from any source that appeals. Most prominently this is R&B acapellas (some re-recorded presumably for legal reasons), processed to drift in out of our consciousness like a distant radio broadcast, but other found sounds are thrown in too. Under this, the core of this album is a gentle electronic soundscape which is soft yet glitchy.

“Turbulent Sphere”, at 13 minutes, is a relatively steady piece with a digital heartbeat. Processed bell sounds and warm chords ebb above. The beginning and end of the piece are weirder than the middle; twisted attempts at key changes towards the end sound playful or positively tongue-in-cheek at parts.

At only a minute and a half long, “Acousmatis” is a wonky processed acoustic guitar loop that seems to be present for two reasons, firstly because it’s a little silly, secondly to increase the track count. The other short track “Teen Haze” is more worthwhile, an almost radio-edit-y bit of anti-pop instrumental with deep flangey bass notes and a lightweight, crisp laptop-hip-hop beat, degenerating into metallic creaks as it develops.

The main meal of the release is the 41-minute “Moonlight Compilations”, which walks a fine line between being a single electronic work and a mix album. There are some steady tempos and recurring elements throughout. Sometimes there’s several layers in play, sometimes there’s a pure single element standing alone. At points it drops to nothing more than distant birdsong, reminiscent of The KLF’s “Chill Out”, with which it shares a sense of live, improvised fader-riding. At other points, it’s a heavier electronic throb, with a womb-like ambience, sometimes pale hisses and windy tones. The on-and-off languid female vocals are a little Leftfield-y. It evolves slowly and it’s generally melancholic, but the electronic pulses are prominent enough that you’re rarely allowed to proper relax in listening to it. Though it’s never out-and-out silly, things do get more wig-out at the end with the brass sounds of some bizarre Latin-sounding TV theme and some random plucked harpsichord notes.

Arguably “Moonlight Compilations” is a little self-indulgent and is a little longer than is warranted, but as an improvised bit of electronic soundscape, there’s a lush, rich feel to most of it that makes it an enjoyable listen.



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