Cold Blow Records have been allowed access to the archives of Scottish electronic artist, Kieran Warren, aka Atonal. Collecting work produced in the early 1990s, they have pieced together what was due to be Warren`s debut album, Bridge, originally earmarked for release by local label, Metatone. When the imprint sadly, and suddenly, folded in 1994, the music being left without an immediate outlet.
The 10 tracks without a doubt reflect their time of creation, a musical moment some 30 years ago, one that seems very much back in vogue – check Music From Memory’s Virtual Dreams compilation, their righteous retrospective of “ambient” act, MLO, but also the ongoing excavation of Susumu Yokota`s vast catalogue*. “Intelligent Dance Music” / IDM and early European trance, for sure, are currently being reassessed.
Warren`s music, very broadly speaking is techno, but its shot through with interesting, more “ambient” textures – and reflects the vast amount of analogue equipment that he`d amassed. 11 synths, 5 sequencers, 5 samplers, and 9 effects units – all of which is listed in full over on Bandcamp. Consequently, sublime submerged, aquatic, sequences swim around the thump of its delayed granular drums. The compositions definitely dancing, but there’s also introspective angle – I guess to cater to whichever gear the listener might be on. Even when racing, the rhythms are countered by a crystalline calm. Nebulous, for example, pulls in comparisons to contemporaries such as Reload. A wistful melody somehow still managing to sit pretty above the metallic pounding. No Escape is one highlight. Its slick snares snapping to a breakbeat-derived battery – very probably Aphex Twin-influenced. Personally, I hear echoes of Xtal. Another is the closing, elegant, epic, 8-minute, Arkanoids, which sheds all the techno trappings, and instead indulges Kieran`s passion for kosmische, early Kraftwerk and Neu! Any suggestion of dance-floor dynamics, muted, tumbling off in its distance. The synths, serene in symphonic arcs.
*For a whole lot more on Susumo Yokota please check out the marvelous new article over at Wax Poetics – put together by Martyn Pepperell, with considerable assistance from by dear friend, Ken Hidaka. Both of these chaps are men on Japanese Techno mission, so also watch out for what they do next.