Trying To Remember


o genres just fold up in on themselves and fade away when we lose interest in them? It seems that way. At some point in the early aughts, journalists seemed to give up hope in IDM, moving ever so bravely onto dance music that wasn’t necessarily all that smart. And as the column inches started to shrink from any interest in the hyper-rhythmic interests of Autechre clones or faux-naïve rips of Boards of Canada, a funny thing happened: I lost interest too.

Despite the Tigerbeat clans protestations to the contrary, though, IDM is far from a dead proposition. And while the strain has mutated into a host of different forms, the Merck label is one of the few that soldiers on, nearly unchanged in the type of music that it releases. The above criticisms, in fact, could be lazily leveled at nearly any of the label’s groups, Deru included.

Deru is a solo artist who creates music fro both Merck and the Neo Ouija label. Those with any familiarity with IDM know that that means that he falls onto the side of the Scottish duo in the comparison above. But while BoC trade in a sort of music that evokes long-lost and slightly menacing memories, Deru prefers the cleaner and more technical side of the melody-driven arm of IDM.

Due attention is paid to the beats, but for the most part they act as basis for compositions to unfold over time, only rarely overpowering the mix. More indicative of Deru’s main interests lie in the end “Loki” wherein angelic voices that have been present for much of the track end up unadorned, intertwining with one another.

That being said, the outlier in all of this is the standout closer “Only the Circle,” which owes more to artists like Gas or Eluvium than Proem. Huge, layered drones work their way around the stereo spectrum, casually laying out a melody to latch onto. As a surprise ending, it makes the rest of the album pale in comparison and ends up making the whole thing nearly worth the journey.

At this point in its history, it’s hard to say how much classic IDM is needed to remind listeners that it’s still around. This album should serve that purpose fine, but it’s hard to recommend to people who have heard this brand of IDM before. Instead, regard it as a reminder that there is IDM out there still struggling to get heard and much of it’s worth a listen, even if you may know exactly how it’s going to turn out. Who knows? Maybe you’ll run into something like “Only The Circle” and get a chill or two.

Reviewed by: Charles Merwin

Reviewed on: 2005-02-16

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