CD, Tympanik Audio, 2009
It seems to be an unusual aim in industrial/IDM/whatever-you-want-to-call-it spheres to want to have any flicker of emotion other than rage and anger, although some artists do manage an impressive job of doing so, often by just the use of what would be termed soundscapes rather than including vocals.
Tapage appears to be one such artist, with this follow-up to a well-received album last year. The whole album is an elegant, wistful album that while not bringing a feeling of euphoria, it certainly has an unexpected warmth that makes it a much more engaging and, dare I say it, listenable album than some others that move in similar circles. Things open in a strange, otherworldly manner with “Ith” invoking images of a trip through the outer realms of space, and the cut-up, ultra-complex beat patterns of “Drain The Clouds” bring to mind none other than Aphex Twin (no bad thing).
The complexity is something, actually, that is worth mentioning. The whole album is impressively constructed from many constituent parts, with all kinds of beats, effects and samples all demanding attention, all the while keeping a flow that means unless you are listening for them, breaks between the tracks are easy to miss. And even when directions change – fourth track “Nail Cut” introduces an unexpectedly “straight” electro beat as the core – it never seems forced and instead feels a result of meticulous work that the artist had planned in great detail.
“Short Dresses” is almost playful fun in the way that the samples and effects bounce between the speakers, while “Cancelling Unlisted Time” is much more direct, the again-complex beat structure charging forwards leaving the rest of it in its wake. While the balance in that track is nigh-on perfect, “Oval Shaped Square” puts (for me) far too much emphasis on the beats, which overpower everything else and leave the pretty melody line floundering the background, fighting for space it can never hope to get. Much more effective is the quite strange chiming melody that runs through “Dark Clouds Adrift”, an inventive use of a familar sound that I’ve never heard used in an electronic music context before.
Things get even more impressive with the strings on “M17W”, the mournful strings with a glitchy beat weaving in and out is an almost perfect track that had me wanting to metaphorically wrap my arms around it and never let it go – although the affair is all too brief as it’s sub-three minute length is far too short.
Remarkably, too, despite its long length – seventeen tracks and well over an hour – no time is wasted, resulting in an absorbing listen that demands – and gets – your attention for the whole time. Not an album to buy for calming background music, as while on the surface it sounds like it would be, it is nothing of the sort. Instead it is worth investing hours in listening to this a few times to begin to reveal the delights contained within, as it certainly won’t work its full magic the first time around.
— Adam Williams