Label: Ethno Indigo Records
Keywords: Ambient, Electronica, IDM
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
I originally discovered Ethno Indigo Records via the Sirona-Records friendly labels page and had wanted to review some of their releases for awhile, but I didn’t know where to start. This is an album I could not ignore, however, despite the overwhelming number of tracks presented here and the strange order it’s all arranged in. For instance, there are two sets of numbered tracks and then several others that seem to just be bits and pieces included by random. I’m frightened, wondering how I’m going to get around these obstacles… but what I figure I will do is get down to the essence of the album, put aside a lot of the tracks that are just subtle reinterpretations of the same material. It’s just such a good album that I must review it in some fashion. And I should get started, probably, as there are like… 32 tracks and almost all of them are over 3 minutes in length, often much longer. O_O
The first track on the album proper is titled ‘Karpov Dream’ and it’s a dreamscape of atonal electro sounds. I imagine myself riding a camel in a neon pixel desert. Or exploring Yume Nikki. Very psychedelic, trance-inducing, and a lot of the subtle synthetic work is lovely.
Next is ‘Meteosat’, a siren warning of digital storms, gales of electronics blowing scatterings of weirdness our way. Music like this is so mindblowing. After awhile an IDM rhythm comes in, I think there’s guitar but it’s very subdued and electronically treated so it’s hard to tell for sure. The beat completely melts into a bubbling pool liquid. It’s like a soundtrack to the realms of a Salvadore Dali painting.
‘Pure’ begins with a house beat that kind of sounds lightly compressed, very reminiscent of early Future Sound Of London material. Highly psychedelic, bizarre reversed synths and sounds. Perfection! LSD/IDM. The bassline that emerges hits some very pleasurable notes, it’s like a blue surge of ayahuasca pumping through your heart valves. It gets filtered into very low frequences for a bit at the end, hugely impressive!
Afterward is ‘Fotex’, super digital feedback pad dirges are sounding off and warping left and right. Dreamy sequences and shots of saw waves echo while a groovy rhythm starts up in a very well thought out place in the mix volume-wise. It’s in-between background and foreground, allowing the sounds that come in and out to dictate where attention will be focused at any given moment. Will you dance or just fall backwards, absorbed by the cyber-surreal sensuality of this track?
Then it’s ‘Poor Too’ in which a flanged, phased sawbass sequence plays while dark pads zoom in and out. It’s like looking through a binocular with two kaleidoscopes attached to the lenses. Tribal rhythms come in and this becomes very awesome. Deep space shamanic star voyage, a DMT machine. These beats are fucking spectacular, the way they move and are subtly modified over the course of the track. Masterful.
‘Trusta’ gets off to a good, noisy, start. There is added a deep house groove that feels like it’s being swallowed by the vortexture of the pads arranged around it. Then it does get swallowed up, disappearing into the guts of the mix. But it returns, clearer than before, almost as if it were purged of corruption in the entrails of cosmosynthesis. The track stomps, all while space dust swirls around us. It ends with some amazing synths and various sounds…
… but then there’s some serious breakbeat action going on, with ‘Timepaste’. It’s like time itself has been minced into something akin to tomato purée. The beats become more and more frenetic and energized electrically, to the point that they begin breaking open your head.
‘ADSL’ uses reversed sounds and noise to make you feel like you’re teetering either on the edge of sanity or reality. The quick zips of white noise seem as though they could tip you over; vertigo sets in. It soon fades, and while you fall into darkness you are tormented by beings of a consciousness alien to you, gnashing their teeth. The integrity of this plane is breaking down and you can hear the cracks in the fabric of space expanding. Who knows where you might find yourself next?
Ah, with ‘H-Arp1v2’ of course, as it’s the next track on the album! It begins with a series of bizarre noises, then a scraping digital bell sequence comes upon us, as well as sawtoothed pads. The bells becomes ever more harmonic, in a scale of sorrows. A lead somewhere between a vibrating piece of metal and a theremin rings out. I hear a strange scream from an unseen entity.
‘Drain’ feels like an amplified scene from a lonely road in the middle of nowhere being visited ghoulish creatures from another world. The rhythms are fractured at first, glitching up like the beginning of a lucid dream. Very awesome! This one’s my favourite so far. The rest of the soundscape disappears for a moment before creeping slowly back in, as if to remind your mind of just how beautiful it was. Chill pads underlay the increasingly harsh, post-industrial beat structures that sounds like a pressure pump cracking. Toward the end, the pads and choirs seem to intensify as the rhythm drops off…
… ‘Paint Forms’ starts with a highly clipped bit of rhythmic noise to which is added a warbly, reverso synth sequence. It almost feels like I’m watching an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man backwards… not to be confused with the Million Dollar Man, of course, though I’m sure you would never make that mistake. I did, while trying to find that clip! Anyway, a breakbeat eventually develops up from out of nowhere and over it ever stranger noises coalesce. The beat drops away and the track starts to feel very ambient, then a reversed beat comes in for awhile, before the track ends in pads and electronic sounds.
More reverse sounds and percussion begin on ‘Block System’. Dark ambient textures lay below these. An electro tribalism comes in with the addition of more percussion. This is only heightened as time goes by. Shrill steam and pressure escape from cracks in the rhythm.
On ‘Untittled Song Unused’ deep bass kicks echo out underneath pads that sound like an infrared laser scanning the environment around us. A shuffled break faded in along with warbling synths. The beat speeds up dramatically at one point, and suddenly the track starts to sound very intense. A synth signal is going off… are we in danger here? We’d better leave, before the robots take us out. They are easily pissed off.
‘Aphex Cream’ begins with a noisy glitchfest. I heard a synbass slap! A buzzy synthetic hat sequences comes in, and then eventually so does an uptempo bang-on-a-trashcan style beat. There’s a synth sequence later on that sounds really nice, almost like a flute or chiptone. It ends with glitchy noises, crispy fried motherboards!
‘Disconscience Correct’ involves a low dirge of a symphonic string, and water drops reverberate in beautiful tones… this is some really nice sound work! The groove is very cool, as is the acid bassline that comes in soon after. It’s as though I’m on a high-speed astral voyage to Kathmandu. Digital thunder and trickles of electronic rain are in the forecast. Buddha meets Pac Man.
Next up, it’s the ambient lush beauty and striking strings of the bonus track ‘ADSL Beats’. The beat comes out, along with deep rumbling synths and piano. It sounds kind of chaotic at first, as if these parts are disparate, but it still sounds good. There are a lot of things just sounding off! The groove gets a 4/4 stomp going at one point, the synths begin feedbacking.
‘Beta Bones’ is tagged also as being bonus beats. It’s very trance-like, not so much a beat at first but a hypnotic sequence with a touch of tribalism to the patterns and sounds. Like the last bonus track, the parts here sound a bit disconnected throughout, almost like everything was layered on ad hoc with little time to make sure it all fit perfectly, or maybe it was just put together last minute. I do not know. The sound of it is really nice, but there is this strange disjointedness that comes through, mostly to do I think with the timing on certain sounds and with the echo/delay effects. It’s very housy and uptempo for the most part.
‘Disco Stuff’ has a bunch of sci-fi effects, the rhythm feels like a lowdown groove and there is a persistent crashing of thunder and lightning. Another beat is imposed upon the first, it’s very uptempo and 4/4 house style. I hear robots… damn, they’ve found us! I thought we were several tracks ahead of them by now. They must have heard the disco. Well, it’s ok for now, we’ll wait for a sec longer before we move on. The beats disintegrate into glitched madness and you can hear bits of synth, almost popcorn style going on in a sequences. Strings and pads are ripping through the space…
… then comes ‘Aphexrev’, and we find ourselves in a wind tunnel being blasted by hot particles of electro glitch. They sear through our spacesuits, creating small holes that it would take forever to patch up, so it would likely be a better idea to just stop at the nearest SpaceDepo and buy ourselves new ones when we get off this rock. It’s like digital machine gun fire emulations… completely destroyed remnants of a breakbeat.
‘Reverse Song’ has some reversed bursts of pad, to which after is quickly added reversed percussion and an uptempo break. Thick hoovery sounds stick to everything. More broken beats emerge. I hear synth pads of a different tonal character float in, almost like synth horns really. Reversed organ, too, I think. The beat starts to change into a high-speed techhouse thing.
‘System Revblock’ is more reversed rhythms and strange electronic percussive noise. This goes on for awhile, until a light beat starts. When the sounds change, it is as though they are being sucked through a straw. Dark pads and an ominous electronic beep-boop come in, too.
‘Forms Painted’ is very ambient, textural. Stars zip by at the speed of light. There are angelic pads, some of them combating each other for primacy of melody. A rhythm that feels quite a bit more downtempo than a lot of the last several tracks comes in. It’s kind of a breakbeat thing. It leaves after awhile and when it returns, it’s been flipped in reverse. What a strange realm. I almost wonder if the whole track hasn’t turned itself around? It ends with a badass synth sequence with really nice filtering, as well as a highly modular, molecular chirping sequence.
There’s a noisy bass pad that starts off on ‘Drain Vain’, and soon some airier pads come in alongside some strange electronic blips and a low-in-the-mix reversed beat. The subtle, gradual modification and filtering of this beat is of primary interest in the track. It really messes with you! I remember this time many years ago that I smoked some shit that I think might have been laced with something, and while sitting in class at school my field of vision became persistently invaded by these red dots of varying size. When I’d start thinking about them, focusing on them, they would dissipate, only to return with a vengeance moments later. That’s what the bizarre rhythm that comes in later is like… there’s a distorted quality to it, it’s layered, you’ll lose track of certain aspects of the track, which will return when you lose focus. It’s really intense!
‘H-Rev’ is a strange soundscape of gutteral electronic voices for a bit, then that drops off into feedback pads and the pure, sublime tones of an electronic brain. A voice calls out and becomes clearer with echo before disappearing. Very weird and awesome! Organs, possibly… a reversed, percolating scrape. More of these strange, wild animal calls… it’s a jungle out here, filled with incorporeal body snatchers. Gotta watch out.
‘LSD-ADSL’… oh, now I see what they did there. xD Anyway, this track is white-noise and rumbles of percussive bass textures. I hear clipped up divas! I recognize that voice, but can’t place it just yet. Vocal subversions float in midspace between the oceans of bass and frequency sizzles and beeps overhead. When that drops off, I hear reverse crashes and cymbals for awhile. The soundscape becomes more harsh, uninviting for awhile. It could be that another plane is starting to break down and we’ll be off visiting another soon. White noise begins to warp in and out, violated by low frequency modulation.
Next is ‘Pastewastedtimerev’ in which low pads lay below reversed percussion and then after awhile all of this gets blown away as an electropsychedelic groove comes in. Then, it slides away gradually to be replaced by simple bass/clap/hat in 4/4 time. There are some very beautiful synth chord leads that come in! I’m crazy about this track now. The bells that are added are really a nice touch. A modulation that comes in after some time passes sounds a bit offbeat, but it’s ok. The track is minimal, for the most part, but nice. Highly experimental electro house psychedelia, perhaps.
‘Trust A Rew’ kicks off with strange sounds, some reversed beats. Then there’s an experimental electro groove in 4/4 for a bit. A ringing comes in… it seems like the beat could be getting gradually more distorted. There’s also a short-lived bassy synth warble sequence, and birds are flying through the skies leaving traces of themselves in the mix.
Very sawlike, almost Oberheimesque synth sequence at the beginning of ‘Poorew’, plus some pads and laser blasts. Shots of synth and reverse drums that sound almost like papers being shuffled come in too… after a little bit we get treated to a 4/4 bass kick, a slightly gruff and bassy R2-D2 sequence, then an uptempo kick and clap combo. The bass kick has a touch of delay to it that makes the whole thing sound off-kilter and psychedelic as it goes.
‘Foterevex’ continues with reversified grooves, following a stab of ice. There are also more glimmering synth pads.
‘Purev’ is like liquid at first, boiling over and spilling bits of pixel data all over the floor. A synth sequence of tenuous tangibility fades in and out. A harp synth also comes in… more reversed grooves are on.
‘Meteorev’ harshly squeals into focus while peculiar sounds emerge next to the reversedrums. It devolves into very resonant electronic soundscapes.
Then, lastly (sort of) it’s ‘Karpov Rev’. Sizzling abstractions of digital sound form the first part of the track. There after the profile of the sound is made up of overdriven pads and reversed synths.
Also available at the link is the ADSL (Reverse Edition) portion of the album, comprised of mostly the same tracklist with differing track times and various small changes in sound. The artists have seriously done quite an amazing thing here, presenting such an abundance of work. This is an indescribably complex piece of music taken as a whole, with so many tracks, so many layers and sounds to get lost in you might never find your way back. Writing for it was very difficult… never before do I think I’ve ever used the words ‘reverse’ and ‘pad’ this often in a review, among others! It’s a must have for sure, though. And do not worry, you are not hallucinating… there’s a link to this awesome album right under the words here: