Published Oct 30, 2018It's been six years since we've heard from sound sculpting veteran Richard Devine, but the Atlanta-based producer has returned and he's aiming for a cosier approach. In the press release for this latest record, Devine said that he wanted to move away from the cold, clinical sound of his previous material and "create something that felt very organic, detailed, spacious, big and warm."
Considering his back catalogue, you could say he's been successful in that attempt, but Devine's idea of warmth is another's Arctic expedition. This is not to say that Sort\Lave is an endless, deep, dark chasm, but a lot of the album's more buoyant fare is buried beneath mounds of hulking machinery.
"Microscopium Recurse," for example, has some colourful squiggles that, despite sounding like bolts violently popping from the hull of some submerged vessel, could be deemed fun. Then again, at over 12 minutes long, you'll likely be grasping at anything remotely pleasant just to get through its maddening sonic chicanery. And that's the opening track, believe or not.
If you do indeed survive the opener, there is some aural respite beyond. "Astra," in particular, is a gorgeous track with just enough drum flutters to remind you that you're still in Devine country. "Takara," too, is a beautifully orchestrated ambient space-walk, and one of the album's finer moments, even though it's at the very end.
Yet, these are just the more accessible moments on a record that is incredibly complex — and let's face it, Devine is nothing if not intricate. "Sentik Pin" is a constantly quivering beast of a track that requires your full attention just to get a handle on it, while its less agitated cousin, "Anemap," is eerie in all the right places.
For the masses this ain't, but what else could we expect from Venetian Snares' Timesig label. Sort\Lave definitely isn't one for the unseasoned. Do your electronic music homework, study hard, and you might just make it out alive. (Timesig / Planet Mu)