CD, Sistinas, 2007
“Aleph Null” is Timothy A. Clark’s second full-length release, this time under the name Phantom West. While it shares some characteristics with its predecessor, “Chimaera” (included in the limited edition version of this release), it is also something of a musical departure in which Clark explores new musical territories, hinted at in his previous release, “The Rain Expedition EP” (also released on the Sistinas label).
While his debut album was an immersive soundtrack to a personal spiritual voyage, Phantom West’s “Aleph Null” is a collection of songs with a strong pop/synth feel. Synthpop arrangements incorporate obvious industrial and IDM elements tempered by minimal influences and the occasional classical or pop-rock touch. Though not exactly gender-breaking music it is effective and competent in achieving ‘gender-blurring’. Occasionally, Clark’s compositions in “Aleph Null” are also reminiscent of the minimal approach to synthpop of B! Machine, some ambiances of Alan Wilder’s project Recoil (though not as daring) and Brian Eno possibly an influence. Though not essential, use of headphones can add to the appreciation the instrumental parts of this album.
Considering the oneiric and introspective feel of the music in “Aleph Null”, the lyrical content isn’t at all surprising and escapes stereotypes. However, I can’t help feeling that Timothy’s vocals would have benefited from additional production work (and perhaps some singing practice) as there are some flaws that become apparent early on (and very much on “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi”), though they’re not so noticeable in tracks like “Anathema” and “Autochroma”.
“Singularity”, “Ghosts on the Road”, “The Rain Expedition” and “Autochroma” are perhaps the highlights of the album. The first for being the most offbeat track on the album, while the other three translate the ‘gender-blurring spirit’ of “Aleph Null”, with “The Rain Expedition” being an especially memorable track.
Overall, while there is something amiss and the sound could be developed a bit more in some points, this album is an ambitious and interesting release, though it will not appeal to everyone. “Aleph Null” shows Phantom West as an original project with serious potential, worthy of checking out and perhaps keeping under watch for future releases.
— Miguel de Sousa