After a ten-year hiatus, Joseph Fraioli, a.k.a. Datach'i, returns to the limelight with System, his seventh album to date. Instead of reappearing on his former label, Planet Mu, however, the New York-based producer has found a home on its sub-label, Timesig, run by Aaron Funk.
Strangely, System is the first non-Funk record to be released by the label, but stranger still is that Fraioli admits his latest album would never have even come to fruition were it not for Funk himself. Having been friends in the past, Fraioli and Funk reconnected over their love of modular synths, Funk having utilized one for his most recent Venetian Snares album and Fraioli posting videos of new patches for the modular community. Upon hearing Fraioli's latest achievements on the modular, Funk began pestering him to release the material, and then voilà: the first Datach'i album in a decade.
The interim has seen huge changes for Fraioli. His last LP, Shock Diamonds, prodded at the boundaries of what music could be, often tumbling into abstract sound collages and digital abysses. It was a step towards the realm of sound design, which is exactly what Fraioli ended up doing for the ten years after that, with his award-winning company Jafbox. While System could be said to retain some sound design elements, it's by and large his most accessible, and most musical work thus far.
System finds Datach'i at his most structured, jettisoning the experimental nature of his earlier work for an album of ultra-detailed IDM. The album is rife with lush digital flourishes that land somewhere between alluring and intimidating. This is mainly due to another impressive dichotomy that Datach'i has pulled off here, that of the mechanical and the organic; almost all tracks on the album have a slice of both. Whether it's "Synthetic Metals," which sounds like a steel-footed centipede convulsing on a girder, what could be an ethereal fog being hammered into form on "Monarchs" or even "Nebulae V2," which comes off like a computer's first attempt at trying to replicate summer rain, System is a beautiful splicing of opposites.
In his current, more listenable state, Datach'i rivals any of the greats in his genre. System itself is easily one of the best IDM albums to emerge over the past couple of years. (Timesig)