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l’Ascenseur – 40 Below

l'Ascenseur - 40 Below

CD, self-release, 2009

In spite of the relative accessibility of l’Ascenseur’s sound (nothing creepy to see here, folks) on “40 Below”, it is not an easy album to listen to, especially all in one sitting. For the first time in a long time, I found myself checking my playlist more than once to see how many tracks were left. When this failed to leave any kind of good impression, I added a few more albums of similar minimal dub stuff (including Sigur Rós, Mewark and Electrochemie, among others) to the mix and success: l’Ascenseur started working for me, but only as long as I kept it in small doses and peppered it liberally with other artists’ work.
This is not to say that l’Ascenseur’s music is bad, by any means, just very bland; vanilla, even. There are a lot of potentially interesting twists to the music, with changing rhythms and overall dynamics (particularly true for “2 hands”, with its complete change of mood – from deep pad atmospherics through to the unconventional juxtaposition of light-hearted snares and rimshot percussion), and even the occasional vocal track thrown in (like “Tasty”, which plays the role of first single off the album, judging by its greater proportion of Last.fm hits, or “Precipis”, my personal choice for best track on the album), but all this just gets lost in the overwhelming lack of interest the album evinces. This is music that would have me actually listening to what the radio DJ was saying just to break the tedium.
That said, l’Ascenseur also shows great willingness to experiment in his methods of sound generation. It could just be that he’s been working on this first release for some time, honing each track until he’s satisfied, but he does manage to avoid the pitfall, to which many electronica artists fall prey, of having common instrumentation running throughout. On “40 Below” each track is an entity in itself, not really part of a larger picture, and this is possibly the most positive aspect of the record. So there is light at the end of the tunnel for l’Ascenseur, but he does need to engage his listeners more.


— David vander Merwe

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