Monday, 23 January 2012

Synthetic Evolution

It is always interesting when artists are able to initiate sonic journeys. Not so much the journey that they take the listener on with their creations, but rather the journeys that they embark on themselves throughout their creative lifespan. Change is most often paramount when it comes to creativity. The greatest bands/ producers are the ones that never stay in one place for too long, yet demonstrate mastery in whichever field that they choose to tackle.

Artists such as Matthew Dear, Scuba, Martyn, Joy O and Instra:mental have all undergone radical shifts in their sound and approach within in the last few years. Yet for the most part, all have retained their critical appeal. These artists have had the luxury of being able to change sounds, despite the fact that the sound they were previously championing was still very much alive. However, it is not always a sure thing that you can still be respected as an artist when you make the switch. Sometimes it comes out of pure necessity that you simply have to change your sound. Ask any "breaks" producer from the early-mid 2000's. The question then becomes, how successfully are you able to navigate your new sound? And how receptive will your fan base be?

There are several examples of producers who have unsuccessfully tried to expand their sound. Skream, Booka Shade, Apparat and Tiefschwartz are all examples of producers who have fallen out of favor with most of their fans after their latest, disappointing, production efforts. Then there are the countless other examples of producers who seem to be willing to completely abandon their credibility and jump ship to sounds that all but eliminate their names from creative relevance. I won't name any names here, but I think we can all come up with a few ourselves.

So whether because you are simply bored with the music you are making and want to change it up, or because the scene in which you were associated with is dying, there are many reasons for sonic diversity and "journeys". None exemplify this better than Holland's best kept secret Exoplanet.

Exoplanet began life as a progressive peddler. Although the term "progressive" can have many negative connotations, think James Holden and Max Cooper, and not Armin Van Buuren and Swedish House Mafia. He really got his start in 2009, his early productions more than hinted at his talents. His productions were mostly light psy and world-influenced trance. He also proved to be very prolific, releasing more than 30 tracks within a calender year.

Since his early productions he has explored pretty much every sound that the whole "world beat" ideal can lend itself to. He has made techno, house and down tempo, all with a very beautiful, yet slightly predictable sound of middle eastern influence. It is mid 2010 that we find him really beginning to find his form. He explores intelligent yet straight-forward trance and techno, but with an emphasis on melody.

Fast forward to 2011 and the release of his debut album, "Nothing Divides Us Here". This is where the creative unrest is reaching a tipping point. Now he begins to leave his comfort zone and experiment with different beat structures, and entire different genres altogether, he even includes an irrefutable drum & bass track. Indeed, "Nothing" was some extremely gorgeous and provocative music. It sounded as though despite the fact that Exoplanet was creatively restless, he had left his mark in Electronic full length album lore.

However, his latest EP "Synthetic Evolution" is truly the crown jewel of his production credits, thus far. It is a five track EP, but with the shortest track lengths running at just over six, to nine-and-half minutes, it is as long as most full length albums. Here we find Exoplanet mastering the skittery and nervous percussion of alt-d n b, post-dubstep and UK techno. Normally it was always the melody that interested me in Exoplanet. He is always able to infuse everything that he makes with a sense of grandiose and scale. This EP let's the melody take a slight break (although it is still very prominent) and let the rhythm set the stage.

Tracks such as the opener "Emerging Architecture" and "Circuit and Organism Coalesce" display tension and unease with the frantic percussion and wonky-psy synth work. They almost sound as if Sphongle were attempting to make dubstep. Then "Living Oscillating Lines" takes things back a notch with a more subdued beat and harmoniously drawn out melodies. The best track however, is the last one "Symbiosis Over Time". Take the best parts of Kowton, Monolake and early Booka Shade and slow them down, that is what this track is like. Absolutely wonderful.

I recommend checking out his entire catalogue, as he is a very, very talented producer. Here is a youtube link to my favorite track. There are a lot of other tracks up there to listen to as well. Do it!!!

Exoplanet - Symbiosis Over Time (Particles)

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