CD, Tympanik Audio, 2008
The bottom line is, if you like slow-moving, emotional IDM, you’ll love this CD. But this immediately makes me somewhat suspicious – as you should be suspicious of things that you immediately enjoy, otherwise you become a mechanized consumer (simultaneously, ossifying the music you may claim to love).
I always have this fear that all the music thrown in the junkyard of IDM may be blurring into one. Those of us that are fans might just be junkies, waiting to hear those nice warm sounds to make our day better; essentially, reducing the entirety of the music to pleasing hooks and auditory furniture. This is why I found Integral’s “Rise” mildly troubling. Is this album’s uniqueness particularity visible? Or is it just subsumed in a totality of other similar releases?
Ultimately, would you want to consume (in both purchasing and listening capacities) this particular album, as opposed any similar albums in the genre? And to attempt to get at a value judgment – as something that’s enjoyable isn’t necessarily good (and maybe also see if it is possible to write an IDM review without relying on describing various dualities).
“Rise” is definitely an album that’s been highly refined, and various parts have been worked on for a long time. Integral claims they’ve been working and refining their sound and “songs” (which they oppose to tracks – implying that they’re aiming at a break with simplistic subsumption to an album). This becomes very apparent when listening to “Rise” as a whole, as all the tracks have their own story to tell. But, unfortunately, this is somewhat blurred due to seamless production and too-small gaps between tracks. Don’t get me wrong, the production quality on this album is amazing. But I would have liked to hear more contrast, and not a continuous flow from one track to another.
The production apex in “Rise” is definitely the bass, which sounds massive while still maintaining a good dynamic range. Both kicks and basslines on this CD strongly differentiate it from other CDs in the genre. On tracks like “Schlaflos,” the slow moving bass sounds are more physical than aural, managing to liven up the track. On “Reaktor” the bassline actually sounds a bit like a Front Line Assembly bassline slowed down, something that seems very unique for an album that’s not meant to be a club stomper and is slow moving.
The other point of interest is the diversity in track length. It’s very suspicious when you listen to an album where all the tracks are approximately the same length, as it denotes a highly formulaic approach to music. But on “Rise” the songs go on for as long as they have to – animating the multiplicity of songs within the album. “Samen” particularly sticks out, being a bit over two minutes long, and contrasting with some of the seven-minute songs on the album. The shortness of “Samen” also helps highlight some of its atonality and dissonance without resorting to relaxing consonant resolution (it might appeal to you if you’re an Anton Webern enthusiast).
However, what I found most troubling about this album is what I enjoyed most the first few times I listened: it finishes off several songs (“Moonhawk” and “Back Here Alone”) sounding akin to a film score. They dissonantly build up, leading to an epic movement. It makes you feel like you’re listening to the score of a sci-fi film you’ve never watched. While this is pleasing to listen to several times around, the similitude leaves you feeling mildly cheated, as it makes the album blur with so many other tracks you may have already heard.
Aside from a few regressive tendencies, it’s an amazing release (limited to 444, so you better get yours quick).
— Lemmy S.