ot on the heels of the newest Boards of Canada release, the American duo of Nick Huntingdon and Michael McGroarty have returned to drop a new full length on analogue warmth into the ears of nostalgia fanatics everywhere. Boards of Canada is almost invariably mentioned when referring to Freescha, but rumor has it they had never heard of the group until recently. Either way, the call for more melodic and warm IDM has been one that the group has been heeding for their entire career, thus far. Through their single releases and full length debut Kids Fill The Floor, Freescha has carved out a small niche which they have continually reworked and dredge up in the hopes of finding the perfect pop song.
Pop songs? IDM? It doesn’t line up, usually. But there has been a strong undercurrent of this lately. Marumari, E*vax, and seemingly the entire Morr roster have grown up listening to music that wasn’t IDM and bring this somewhat unique aesthetic to the genre. It’s almost refreshing to be able to relax during listening to an album and let the melodies flow, without worrying where the next blast of static or twisted amen break is going to be coming from. With stated influences such as The Gap Band, John Denver, and Hall and Oates; Freescha fall easily into this category of pop IDM.
Beginning with the second track on the record, Freescha begin the synthesizer washes and simple drumbeats. Perhaps this song may have been left off the previous full length, as it might have made that record too long. Such easily composed melodic pop is nice, for what it is. One gets the feeling, however, that Freescha are stuck on this train, attempting on each successive track to get closer to the apex of the pop song- a Brain Wilson fixation, almost. As the record continues, the listener is treated to more of the same. The same sounding synthesizers, the same yearning melodies, the same simplistic drumbeats, and the same counterpoint coming in at just the right time. It sounds as though Freescha has taken a bit more care in adding flourishes to the end of melodic lines, a bit more accoutrement to the base of the building.
The whole exercise seems rather static and flaccid, however, until the ending track, which-even my hardened heart must admit- is utterly fantastic. There is a rise, a fall, and a beautiful melody in between. The, by now, familiar synthesizer comes in slowly until a kick drum starts up the song properly. Wavering between the left and right channel, the main melodic line finds a center for a few seconds until another piano comes in bringing the main theme to the forefront. The most interesting use of percussion is used here, in the form of almost bass pulses and an odd subterreanean static. This gives way quickly to the main portion of the song which goes on, until the final triumphant minute long statement of restrained glee. At five and a half minutes it goes on for just the right amount of time for the different sections of the piece to get their due and not overstay their welcome. It’s the most varied and successful song on the record.
No one ever complained of Hall and Oates of repeating themselves, time after time, because everyone realized that they had a core audience which they chose to please with a signature sound. Freescha, by now, should have a core audience of interest in their melodic IDM, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are not progressing in any meaningful way.
Once a territory is staked out and the owner of the property becomes lax in his knowledge that his land is safe is when he is the most vulnerable. Freescha, with these two full lengths and their various singles, have staked out their territory quite well- and do what they do amazingly well. Unfortunately, their releases are, for the most part, interchangeable and offer no innovation of sound. Perhaps there is more intricacy of melody, more harmonic counterpoint. Perhaps Freescha used different methods in constructing this record and this is a result of using new instrumentation to create the same result. Perhaps I won’t be purchasing this record and listening to Kids Fill The Floor every time I’m in the mood to listen to Freescha.