January 14, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: Similar Objects - Finding Astral Lovers (2011)

Similar Objects' experimental, IDM-flavored Finding Astral Lovers is a challenging record that fuses abstract sounds with the pulse of city life excesses, incorporating rich layers of disjointed beats, electronic textures, and samples that evoke everyday exploration of the unconscious. Listening to the album is an experience in itself as if you’re immersed to a Zen-like meditation in some zoned out place that you haven’t even seen before. It can be tad tiring, difficult to grasp at some point, but the reward is in the waiting—the attempt to see the beauty transform slowly from its alienating, psychedelic lushness.

Finding Astral Lovers, in its stirring moments, had some of the loveliest mood music this side of the world. There’s a slight cuff of ethnic music in the background which gives it a home-bound, Oriental feel. Jorge Wieneke, the man behind the ambient solo project, carves tunes from digital kulintangs, chimes, and tribal percussion midis with flair of an expert. He mixes it with the crackles of ambient noise and lingering rhythms, creating a world woven deftly on its own. The result is a warm, ethereal laptop experiment that sounds way ahead of its time, but is grounded in all its earthiness.

There are a couple of stand out in this album filled with fillers. “Black Out For A Second” plays with silence and unexpected blips to capture the feel of a memory relapse. “Buffeted and Jolted” is cinematic and haunting, like a score of some surrealist Lynchian movie. And then there’s the album closer, “A Small Chord Like A Spider’s Web”, with its gauzy breakbeats and electronic flourishes building up to a swell of sinister bale. Wieneke’s knack of collecting photographed feelings and nuances through maximalist, forward-leaning music, one that fleets in seconds and occasional outbursts, has always been the source of the album’s strength. He paints images in the abstraction of sounds, a touchstone that is evidently clear in most songs in the record. This gives Similar Objects'  Finding Astral Lovers its major creative step forward, and when it taps the unfamiliar and the Zen-like, it almost feels bigger than the moody electro music it makes. B+

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