NGLY Cities of Illusion
Published Oct 03, 2016Enigmatic Argentina-via-Berlin producer NGLY employs a broken-down, messed-up aesthetic one might reach after a DMT trip. His debut LP, Cities of Illusion, shows hints of the chaotic aggression of the early grime of Wiley or the busy 16th-note synth lines of Aphex Twin if he had never gotten into ambient music, but the dreamy dynamic is more suited to headphones than clubs, even when it verges on nightmarish.
Maybe if the Bug came out in 1989, he'd sound like this. It's like a futuristic artificial intelligence sifting through the digital detritus of pre-internet electronic music: post-industrial techno, acid house, even classic video game sounds (on "Infiltrating Parallax," for example).
NGLY has said that he "was coping with no time, stress… it's a very nervous LP actually," and that manifests in the indistinguishably processed vocals, and distorted or lo-fi synths. The bass frequencies are kept relatively tight though, as heard in the kick on "Jessica Abre Los Ojos." The structures aren't built on club-ready 'drops,' but instead wander through a melting psychic landscape. "Billy S." mutates through unexpected filter sweeps and pitch-shifts; one imagines the many-armed Kamaji from Spirited Away restlessly twiddling knobs and flicking switches here.
"Strange Expression" is a nice reprieve, with less distortion on the drums and no aggressive riffs at all for the first while. When a funky synth line eventually creeps in, it's much more subdued, like gentle rain on an upturned bucket triggering midi notes (compared to what feels at other times like a downpour).
It might not be for everyone, but Cities of Illusion is a fascinating step forward in the burgeoning career of this creative producer. (L.I.E.S. Records)