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Cullen Miller – Stolen Nature

Cullen Miller - Stolen Nature

CD, Two Circles, 2009

Detroit/San Francisco sound designer Cullen Miller really has his head screwed on. You get the impression that he’s never even heard of IDM when you filter through the press release surrounding this album, but that’s what you get from the opening number which, as with all the other tracks, is ‘untitled’. Subtle tones and instrumentation are dragged along with almost dub-like bass and are lifted with organic elements such as acoustic guitar, a gentle warm opening to an album that is immediately engaging.
Subtle vocal cut and pastes filter track one into track two keeping continuity and, with the electronics, things do start to sound a little more organic over the mix. There is a relaxed swagger to the entirety of this release as he fills out the ambient textures with field recordings as a backdrop to patch out any dead air that may arise and an underlying free jazz element to a lot of the tracks that never truly outweighs any of the other parts of each number.
With such an eclectic mix there will always be an overwhelming odd aspect to such an album. But this is kept in touch as the higher end of the electronics are kept light and provide a certain playfulness to the proceedings, as not to drag the listener completely into obscure territory and thus provide accessibility for those who don’t appreciate momentary madness – even when he occasionally has a tendency to throw in an almost Venetian Snares-like approach to composition.
The only draw back I can think when listening to “Stolen Nature” is the similarities between a lot of the tracks and, with over nine of them, this does become an album I would most likely listen to in two halves just to break it all up. However Cullen Miller is abundant with talent and this is a ‘technically’ brilliant album in a lot of respects.


— Tony Young

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