Saturday, May 30, 2020
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Serph: Aerialist

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Artist: Serph
Title: Aerialist
Format: CD + Download
Label: Noble
It’s rare at ChainDLK to hear electronica that’s so upbeat and unashamedly optimistic-sounding. It’s 67 minutes of quite poppy mostly-instrumentals broadly categorisable as drum & bass for the most part but with plenty of glitch and other musical influences thrown into the mix. Vocal and orchestral elements are the rich upper layers, with a generally lush and super-soft sound, while the rhythm programming is crisp and often seriously energetic but never aggressive.

It’s a proper genre-spanner that seems to revel in defying expectation. The guitar effects on “Airflow” are almost U2-like in parts, but not in a bad way. Halfway through the mellow and atmospheric layout of “Nightfall” we start getting Burial-ish dubstep beats, then perky, jazzy piano. “Ignition” features some helium-pitched vocal noises, yet played against sincere-sounding acoustic guitar sounds. The trailer-esque gutpuncher distortion very sparsely used on the bass on “Artifakt”’s intro makes way for a bit of proper electrofunk with slap bass, before the bright piano chords of “Weather” and “Popp” sound like they’re only one boyband-style vocal line away from the pop charts.

Thankfully it never comes across as excessive showing off, because it ought to, and it never loses track of the album’s overall positive vibe.

The Tokyo-based Serph also puts music out under the alias Reliq, and as half of N-qia, and in both those cases there’s at least a hint of a darker edge- but here, brightness and enthusiasm is the order of the day. And it’s seriously refreshing.