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MUSIC Album reviews with Simon Duff

Latest releases from Lawrence Lek, Pole, Roger and Brian Eno

Lawrence Lek
AIDOL
(Hyperdub)
★★★★

Lawrence Lek makes music and is also a simulation artist who uses computer-generated animation and video game engines to explore socio-political virtual worlds.

He collaborated with label boss Kode9 on the Notel audio-visual performances, a simulation of a post-apocalyptic automated hotel.

Lek’s AIDOL film is a CGI fantasy telling the story of a fading superstar, Diva, who enlists an aspiring AI songwriter to mount a comeback performance at the 2065 eSports Olympic finale, set in a realm of architecture, drones and snow-deluged jungles.

The soundtrack is a contrasting science fiction prediction, complex, textured work.

Brilliantly realised, Diva’s yearning vocals, sung in English and Mandarin, casts future K-pop melodies over billowing, intricately arranged songs.

Her voice was created with Yamaha's Vocaloid voice synthesiser.

The instrumental tracks, produced with composer Seth Scott, are elegiac, beautiful, Vangelis-inspired, hinting at ambient fourth world music dreams.

 

Pole
Fading
(Mute )
★★★★

Berlin-based Stefan Betke, aka Pole, uses themes based on memory loss as a starting point for his latest poetic dub-infused work.

His name is taken from a Waldorf 4-Pole synth that gave Betke his sound.

Over the years it has morphed and transitioned into a finely tuned sense of evolving, dramatic soundscapes.

Accidents are something to be cherished in his world, including the striking artwork for the album.

The opening track, Drifting, alludes to a lifespan that starts empty and gets fuller, based around slowly evolving glitches, abstract alien percussion loops and imaginative off-centre synth programming, before morphing into distant distorting bells.

Fading, the last track, conjures up notions of disappearance and hinted atmospheres, equating that all of us leaves something behind.

The presentation of the album merges into a perfect blend of a haunting considered craft and unpredictable accidents in dub.

     
 

Roger and Brian Eno  
Mixing Colours Expanded   
DG
★★★★

Roger Eno is the older brother of Brian. An accomplished pianist and composer, he has collaborated over the years with the likes of Peter Hamill, The Orb and Laraaji.  

Mixing Colours sees brother Brian processing and editing Roger’s MIDI files and FX processing in order to realise a simple straightforward piano Rhodes Celeste combination sound frame.

Influences at work vary from John Cage’s melodic simplicity to Satie and Schubert.  

Slow, short, reflective pieces reveal with a religious-like zeal, engaging and fulfilling.

Notation is relatively simple and sparse, with titles relating to colour names such as Celeste and Deep Safron.

Perhaps more time might have been spent working on tempo variation and more original sonic palettes.

The expanded edition contains seven new tracks including Moss, Violet, Vermilion, Marble and Malachite.

Pewter was previously available as a bonus track in Japan.

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