Electronic Barnacle Island
Deeply Faulted Area Resembling An Upright Deck Of Cards
lectronic music has, at some point in the past decade or so, become just another genre. By this I mean it’s lost all of its novelty value, at least in most circles. It is now possible, as Electronic Barnacle Island prove, to put out an album of what their label refers to as “post-IDM” music that does not fall into either of the two categories that it seemed for a while all “serious” electronic music of a certain type was doomed to be slotted: groundbreaking genius and noble failure. Deeply Faulted Area Resembling An Upright Deck Of Cards isn’t going to be mindblowing or revolutionary to anyone who hasn’t been living in a cave/listening to only classic rock for the past ten years, but at the same time anyone who likes electronic music is going to be hard pressed to slight it. It’s a good, average, post-Aphex Twin album, and the genre has come far enough that this sort of meat-and-potatoes stuff, if you will, can now be made.
One of the main drawbacks from a listening perspective, then, is that there’s not a lot to catch your attention; you’ve heard it all before. In fact, I listened to this album a good five or six times intending to write this, and each time my focus slipped away from the disc before I knew it. So I’m going to engage in a bit of real-time reviewing and listen to each song right now so I can comment on it for your assembled edification. Without further ado:
‘Mortal Head Clip’: Sort of like I Care Because You Do’s mid-tempo tracks, in sound if not necessarily in structure. Sets up a nice groove, rides it for a while, then ends. Solid. But wait a minute—the track still has two minutes left. So it switches to a completely unconnected ambient wash of some sort for two minutes. Pleasant, but why not split the two tracks up?
‘Colourfloor’: A little more consistency this time. Still starts out very Aphex-esque and then switches to a slower, quieter, sound, but this time there’s an actual transition. And it comes out of that quiet period with a different beat, all slow-motion keyboards and clicking drums. They should have focused more on the end part—it’s great.
‘Mheragain’: There’s a confusing story in the liner notes that mentions a “Lake Mheragain” at one point. The aquatic ebb of ‘Mheragain’ bears that out, and along with the muted, squelchy beats the result is darkly beautiful. The near the end there’s a sound like a tape being wound back and we get the alternate version—same aquatic feel, but light and airy as well.
‘Chance To Be Hollow’: Very standard in that a drum track does exactly the same thing fifty times underneath some more interesting sounds that actually kind of progress. But the fact that follows SOP isn’t a criticism; some of the best programming on this record is here, and even a garbled vocal sample at one point (I think).
‘Reset’: Standard short, not terribly interesting interlude. I’m glad this didn’t get tacked on to the end of ‘Chance To Be Hollow’, though.
‘Servo Paw’: Apt name: The beginning sounds kind of like the plod of some cybernetic beast. But then slow chords on some sort of keyboard get thrown in and the song stomps along for a while.
‘Hand Wounds’: Another low-key groove. Putter about nicely for around three minutes and then slinks out of sight. But the main sound makes its reappearance and eventually a charming melody twines its way around it.
‘Tender Snap Compartment’: Sudden beginning; we’re back to I Care Because You Do territory. Every so often everything snaps off and then back on again. Hence the title, I guess.
It’s hard to write about albums like this, albums that are perfectly good and don’t do anything wrong, but that rarely get anything spectacularly right either. At its best (‘Chance To Be Hollow’, ‘Mheragain’), Deeply Faulted Area Resembling An Upright Deck Of Cards is pretty wonderful; but it’s hard to imagine it becoming a big part of your life.
Reviewed by: Ian Mathers
Reviewed on: 2004-02-09