Friday, June 5, 2020
«« »»
Artist: Tonikom (@)
Title: Found and Lost
Format: CD
Label: Hymen Records (@)
Rated: *****
As some may know, Tonikom is the project moniker of New York City based electronic music artist Rachel Maloney, and 'Found and Lost' is her most recent release since 2009's 'The Sniper's Veil' also on Hymen Records. Apparently the 2009 European tour for that album knocked the wind out of her creative sails for a while, but there's no question she got it back for 'Found and Lost' released in September of 2012. Yeah, I know, this review comes very late, nearly a year after the album came out but we're mega-backlogged here and we get to 'em as soon as we can; to put it in the faux-Latin ' 'beta laten evah'.

On first listen I didn't much care for this album at all, so I put it away for and worked on other reviews. Coming back to it though after a while with fresh ears and a new perspective, I found myself hearing the album in a whole new light. Another thing I noticed is that the CD contains a Haujobb remix (how on earth did I miss that??) I think the reason I didn't care for it much the first time was that it seemed scattershot and too diverse. 'Found and Lost' is really hard to pin down. There are all sorts of things going on here, with the music staying in no one (or two, or three, or even four) particular electronic music genre.

For the opener, 'Across its glass surface,' you've got percolating electronics, syncopated tap-dancing percussion, and a cute little melody with icy background ambience. Break-beating drum programming with gated and effected snare and wild synth electronics is the modus operandi of 'Along the rail,' but even that's not a complete description. 'Stumble' is a slower number that changes tempo and time signature within the framework of the rhythm track while spacey streaking synth pads hold down the ambience. 'Detector' opens with old-school modulated electronic oscillations, ethereal synth piano (and other supporting synth-work) before it hits its percussive stride with some snazzy breakbeat programming and heavily processed drum track. This track in particular is reminiscent of artists from the Tympanik Audio label. 'Eternal Internal' sounds like what you might get if you threw Kraftwerk, Knife Party, Delerium and Massive Attack into a blender ' simple melody, wobbling dub-steppy bass, ethereal chorus and a lot of moodiness. 'Hope' harkens back to early (but not too) early Kraftwerk for the simple melody line and electronics but the percussion is straight-ahead drumkit. Rhythm-wise it has a clockwork feel. 'Interlude' is a mish-mosh of all sorts of electronic weirdness and sonic effluvia in the beginning, but becomes dark, dense and lower frequency dwelling by the middle. An echoed brief spoken word sample shakes you out of your complacency toward the end.

'Orbit' is one of two pieces that employs a (broken, beat-up) piano Rachel found in the greenroom of a club in Rostock, Germany on the 2009 European tour. It sets the mood with its wistful melody. 'Lost to the Flames' reminded me somewhat of Haujobb once it got going, in form, progression and style. 'Insense' (redux) once again reminds me of instrumental Delerium, more for its feel and pacing than anything else. 'This is what she felt' is the other track that uses that Rostock club broken piano but not until the middle where it changes the entire mood of the piece from a pleasantly melodic mid-tempo piece with full rhythm to something more melancholy sans rhythm.

I have no basis of comparison for Angina P's remix of '29 degrees' (32 degree remix) not having heard the original, but it's rather rapid percussion programming (approximately 172 BPM) with wailing, moaning, slow pitch-shifting synth in the background, some brief sampled (female) dialogue phrases and a subtle bass and chord progression. It was okay, but nothing thrilling. Haujobb's remix of 'Detector' is a radical departure from the original turning it trance-techno with a pulsing fast sequenced synth pattern, a slower repetitive sequenced synth pattern and other electronic sounds out of the Haujobb tool box. The melodic theme is altered in both melody and instrument, from piano (in the original) to string synth. Also, the rhythm is accented with TR-808 cowbell, a sound I don't particularly care for. Although I liked some sonic elements of the remix, I liked the original better. (Sorry Mr. Myer.) Overall though, 'Found and Lost' is an interesting addition to Tonikom's oeuvre despite its unevenness, and IDM enthusiasts are sure to find worthy material here.