digital download, Plastic Sound Supply, 2009
As a whole, Scaffolding’s “Narratives” looks to the twin inspirations of classic IDM and contemporary minimal techno in finding its own path. It approaches a hybridization of these genres, however this proves incomplete, as the compositions, taken individually, tend to be more one thing than the other. This is certainly no drawback, since both types, as well as those that fall between, demonstrate not only quality sound production and terrific bass modulations, but also a distinct appreciation for post-industrial technoid styles.
Scaffolding adds an extra dimension to its plaintive, yet somehow mischievous, music with the inclusion of vocalists in a few places. Among its thirteen tracks, the album features three, plus three remixes. “Narratives” manages to cover a lot of ground this way, from subtle, infectious grooves like album opener “Microbe” to the classic acid of “D-Tron (Michael Fakesch Remix)” and prickling micro-sounds, swirling ambience and breathy vocals in “Instant (feat. Sarah Marcogliese)”.
Like any good story, “Narratives” also shows diversity in mood and aspiration, with even single tracks containing multiple movements and atmospheres. “Mass”, for instance, evolves from playful IDM robotics through a seething 4/4 beat to end up at bouncing IDM organics. “Brooke” goes from a techno beat with pops and clicks to grinding synths and IDM eccentricity, finally culminating in a spacey, sci-fi theme. Elsewhere the listener encounters contrasts between minimal techno and mercurial electronics (“Clarity”), dirty broken beats layered with melody (“D-Tron”) and a dubstep episode, complete with rolling bass and stumbling beats (the Cacheflowe remix of “Microbe”). To close the disc, there is even an IDM ballad in “After the Killing (feat. Sarah Simoom)”, which juxtaposes experimental electronics with emotionally sung lyricism in a combination that, while finely performed, falls short.
While the acid influences that frequent “Narratives” may induce reminiscence about the good old days of IDM, where Scaffolding succeeds best is with a varied palette of furtive, subconscious micro-sounds that stand out in the spaces left by grooving minimal structures and bass, accenting those voids in between and above with the barest of textures. “Microbe” does this superbly, as does dark and bubbly “Book” and the Michael Fakesch treatment of “D-Tron”, the latter of which highlights the fractured sounds of the original in a muffled, rhythmic undercurrent of scratchiness and a steady build of small, strange sounds. This shows that Scaffolding is indeed capable of yielding some exceptional material, though overall its “Narratives” attempts a unique, promising sound that, at least for the moment, still lacks a certain cohesion and maturity.
— Dutton Hauhart