Moncton electronic artist Paul Goguen has been releasing steadily as Paranerd (and under other aliases) since the early 2000s, although if you're not a denizen of SoundCloud or Bandcamp, your ignorance may be forgiven.
Until now, that is — if you're in any way a fan of warm and wistful '90s IDM, passing on Silktrops (his latest for Touched Music) would be unwise. It's an album that calls to mind the work of some pretty specific artists during a pretty specific time, but it sidesteps tiresome nostalgia with ease, finding its own voice almost immediately.
Many of the towering achievements of '90s IDM were prized for their difficulty or extremity, but Silktrops is highly accessible. Most tracks have few moving parts, in fact — a groovy bass line, some warm pads, a memorable synth melody — but they interlock perfectly; it's simple, direct and instantly likeable stuff.
It lacks the frenetic beats of the era, nudging it more towards the braindance section of the great IDM Venn diagram, but that kind of hair-splitting goes against the inclusive spirit of the album. Frankly, anyone who's enjoyed the '90s output of Aphex Twin, u-Ziq, Plaid, Cylob or those like them will find much to like here; there are some supremely evocative and wistful melodies on Silktrops.
There are some inessential tracks, as well. The beatless "Voso" fails to impress (the beatless 'experimental' track has definitely become the obligatory power-ballad of electronic music), and "Lentslide" slides towards tedium as well. Any moments of dullness, though, are buoyed by the general excellence on display here; Silktrops is a very strong album. IDM connoisseurs may get the most out of it, but its punchy beats and warm, inviting melodies should find wide appeal. Goguen's profile should rise after this. (Touched Music)