Nick Forte
Pasted Lakes
Schematic
2003
F

and so we encounter another release from the wildly uneven Schematic label. Known as a label run and funded by artists, each release so far has had elements that could appeal to the producer of complex digital music. It seems, however, that often times that the self-referential artist driven aesthetic of the music gets in the way of producing tracks that are geared towards an audience that can both understand and appreciate it. While it can be argued that all avant-garde production is not meant to be understood upon first listening, sight, etc.; it can also be argued that the aural equivalent of fumbling towards a particular artistic stance is not something that is pleasurable to see or listen to.


On this entry into the Schematic catalogue, Nick Forte makes his post-digital debut by cutting up tracks intended for an electronic music record and using various software to mold them into short experimental noise collages.


The album, however, starts with a full fledged song: “Green Language.” On this track, Forte winds a tight dub bassline into a swirling maelstrom of bells and stuttering static cut-ups. The beauty of the track is in the Massimo-esque melodics that emerge from the ether, overdriven yet completely ethereal. Forte manages to mesh hard edges and aquatic transience quite well. Following this track, however, comes numerous short one minute sound pieces that sound like tossed off experiments, rather than proper songs.


And for this, Forte can’t be blamed. Mixing songs and experiments was obviously his intention. It should be noted, however, that the album is wholly resistant to any sort of narrative or linear flow, as a result. Instead, there is a disjointedness in the feeling that the listener can only expect the unexpected- but oddly enough, it rarely works to any sort of advantage by becoming truly surprising.


Later on, “Blender Dance” feels like a throbbing techno track waiting to be unleashed, but cut up beneath a thick viscous liquid in, appropriately enough, a blender. Every so often a melody sees the light of day for a moment, but it is soon undercut once again by the whirring blades of Forte’s digital processing.


Forte’s experiments, then, come off as little more than the sum of their parts, digitally altered electronic tracks that display a mastery of programming but not much else. Many of these same charges, however, could be leveled at a large majority of the first time experiments in post-digital American IDM. While it is truly the new punk rock, in this particular instance it still leaves one as cold and as alienated as they were before the record came on. Perhaps more time should have been spent crafting the order and mood of this album as it took to put the samples into MAX/MSP. A pity that, in either case, it doesn’t sound like it was.


Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01
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