Monday, 21 January 2013

Dementio13 - “Last Test” review

Based in Cardiff, Paul, producing this release as Dementio13, cites influences as disparate as Aphex Twin, Neu!, Delia Derbyshire, Arthur Baker and The BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Each one of these voices however can be heard throughout his latest release “Last Test”. The opening groove of “A Beat Called Don” will have any Krautrock devotee who has even a passing acquaintance with Neu!, salivating with joy, whilst “Pemberton Colliery”, through a series of tones and electronic textures, takes the listener on a journey through the history of electronic music over the past fifty years. Delicate keyboard textures and drones inform “Pen Y Fan” evoking not only the composer’s interpretation of that specific location but the spirit of ambient music in general. Eight minutes of “Really Far Away” are swept along with the momentum of mesmerising pulses and dark, yet not unfriendly, washes of sound. Again the characteristic “Apache Beat” or “motorik” groove underpins the ride and carries the willing participant across a vista of sound including abrasive electronic shards and a seemingly wordless female voice drifting soulfully through the mix.

Almost dreamlike yet delerious vocals bubbling gently underneath the music are a distinguishing feature of “Cycle Energy”, whilst “This Is My Mid Life Crisis and You’re listening To It” is playfully simple, yet deeply evocative of a life once led. “Zenit” may please the listener, who remembers and appreciates the 8-bit technology reminiscent of 1970/1980’s computer game music. The influence of characters such as Aphex Twin may be felt on pieces such as “Fruitfly”, “Bonnie Dog” and “Last Test” which oscillate wildly between abrasive electronic noise and solid driving rhythm with confidence, whilst aficionados of The BBC Workshop and John Baker may recognise the composers acknowledgment to those artists and the electronic composers of the 1980’s possibly some of the early work by The Human League. Some of the passages here would not appear out of place as incidental or soundtrack music to a dystopian vision of the future. There are moments when one almost feels they are listening to the sound of a fax machine or out of date modem being manipulated into the productions. The geometric cover art to this release goes some way to reinforce this aesthetic.
“Last Test” closes with “Version 3” which in some ways blends all of the previous influences into one cohesive piece whilst at the same time displaying an almost “hauntological” admiration for music of an innocent time gone by. The contrasting music that collectively makes up this latest release from Dementio13 is in no way fractured, indeed “Last Test” is a cohesive work that acknowledges the music that has gone before, and uses that history to create something at once respectful and inspirational. 

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