CD, Lovethechaos, 2007
With “Isotopos”, the debut-album of Barcelona-based artist Nikka, the electronic music and art label/collective Lovethechaos (also from Barcelona) brings us a fourth release of quality precision experimental electronic music and exquisite design.
While Aphex Twin would be an obvious reference, Nikka’s music is also very reminiscent of the work of artists such as Gridlock and Bitcrush, who are reference names in this field of minimal precision electronics. Reduced to the absolutely necessary and stripped down of any excess detail in terms of sound elements, the compositions in “Isotopos” seems to drift between being chill-out/ambient electronica and a meditative electronic soundtrack (albeit a rather cold and mechanical one). The only caveat with this album may be an impression of lack of variety, which is nevertheless mitigated by its duration and the inclusion of a well-placed remix track by Ab Ovo. Cliché as it may sound, this is cerebral music and its full appreciation requires an attentive attitude and a mind attuned to appreciating minute and subtle detail.
The compositions in “Isotopos” are seemingly simple and straightforward in that no more than three layers of sound are used at any given time, combining pensive ethereal pads and the occasional drone, peppered with metallic sound samples and the occasional static, sparse ponderous percussion and broken rhythms to great effect into cold minimal soundscapes. The meditative quality of tracks such as “Allplus” and the immersive “Microkripto” is broken somewhat by Ab Ovo’s contribution to the album, in the form of a more ‘driven’ and upbeat remix of the track “Inorganic Agent” which precedes “Host”, the track that concludes the album in a note of unresolved tension. Somehow, I can’t help but feel that the inclusion of a data section in this release, with videos for a couple of tracks, would have been quite adequate and would have benefited it overall.
Adepts of cold and precise minimal electronics and IDM will find it an agreeable listening experience despite it not breaking any new ground. For others, “Isotopos” is certainly good introductory material into this music field. Perhaps not for every listener but a solid and very competent debut release – and another good showing for Lovethechaos – that is worth checking out and requires attentive listening to be fully appreciated.
— Miguel de Sousa