Artist: Concealed Sequence
Title: Aural Unrest
Label: OTS Records
Keywords: Big Beat, Drum n Bass, Electronica
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
Another request for review, so wonderful!
ðɪs ɪz haʊ ʌɪm təʊld wəːds ɑː ˈprɒp(ə)li prəˈnaʊnst wɛn ˈspiːkɪŋ ˈɪŋglɪʃ, əˈkɔːdɪŋ tuː ðɪ ˈɒksfəd ˈdɪkʃ(ə)n(ə)ri. Have fun deciphering that. You might need an Oxford. But, coming back to finish my thought, to pronounce the language of music a radically different -ary of diction must be found… a universal dictionary; a dictionary of the mind, the body and the soul. Where can you find such a thing but inside yourself? Perhaps anywhere there is music, compiled to effect us, stray and wand’ring lovers of sound… perhaps in Aural Unrest, by Concealed Sequence… perhaps… and I’m quite sure I’m leading up to something here… a review, possibly…
… oh, yeah. I was right. I’m like a psychic. The first track on this album is titled ‘Nightside’, and it begins with a textured digital bell pad of awesomeness before some punchy cut up breaks come in. There’s an acid pulsewave sequence playing that’s really nice while the rhythms get fleshed out. I’m liking the funk of the sound, kind of groovy and off-kilter. Toward the end I’m really enjoying the groove and the almost trance-like synth stabs.
‘Emotional Void’ feels anything but devoid of emotion. The sequenced bells that begin are kind of nice, and the breakbeat rhythm that soon comes in is also cool. After awhile some deep synth choirs and strings are added to the mix. The sounds move, changing subtly throughout, at times feeling very bright. This is sunrise music, something I’d put on while reflecting on the nights events and trying to settle my mental activity before attempting to sleep. In some ways its nice not having that kind of sleep cycle anymore, but I miss it relatively often. Waking up at 6 or 7 PM can feel kind of weird after a couple years, really. The sequencing of this music is very hypnotic, transitioning so subtly that after several minutes you begin to think, wow, this track sounds a lot different than I think it did when I first started listening, so you roll it back to make sure you’re not just going crazy.
‘Depth Charge’ feels like a deep blue ocean pad choir. Then, bright synth strings come up. The effect is like a submarine surfacing suddenly, traveling faster probably in my imagination than they normally would in what we call “reality”. The breakbeat cements the fantasy somehow even more, though there’s nothing particular about them that I would consider oceanic. After a bit another sequence arrives, this one kind of like a steady rhythmic synth harmony. Loving the breakdown with the beats and *thonk* of a conga. The next part, featuring a return of all the melodic components is very layered, textural, blissful.
Then then next track, ‘Shadow Weaver’, comes on. It’s got a slow attack sawsynth and some really nice beatsmithing. This one’s got a really nice tapestry of synth sounds! Eventually it cuts to a nice, pounding 4/4 house beat with lovely synths like echo-location. Then it’s time to hit the breaks again… I really like the hard transitions with the rhythms on this, lots of rhythmic diversity works well on material like this.
Afterward comes ‘Resin’, with tiny piano sounding almost bucolic, and heavy cut-up breakbeat manipulations. Choirs hum in the background, and the sound gets almost future-jazzy for a sec. The next section feels more like idyllic, dreamy electronica. There’s a period where a loop repeats, funny how that actually seems so noticeable as the music, despite its use of sequencing, possesses a large degree of slightly varied or differential measures which keep it sonically interesting.
‘Node’ begins sounding like jazzy electro, with a touch of the cosmic. Maybe it’s mostly the rimshot that makes it feel so electro? I love the sounds, piano harmonizing with strings and slight touches of spaciness. This is definitely one of those pieces of music you’d want to take with you on an extended flight through space. The breakdown section has a bit of an acid-tinge, it’s like uptempo trip hop. Then those pianos return and it feels ultra-heady. I don’t know if I’m even in space anymore, maybe I’ve shrunk and am flying through a living human brain, dodging synapses, chatting up cell molecules.
Bizarro funk electronica is possibly the best way I could describe the beginning of ‘Metrical Chants’. It’s like a snapscape as far as the rhythms are concerned, covered in liquid goo synths and ufo noises. The bells are nice in the section with absent rhythm. Then a low 4/4 house groove kicks in, just before the next snap attack. I hear a synth saying “wahwahwoh”… this is some mad science. This is like the post-modernist soundtrack to a strange laboratory, with reanimated amoebic creatures in place of Frankenstein’s un-named monster.
‘Reliquary’ starts with a thick synth drone. Fragmented modular-sounding trickle-synths come in, and it’s like listening to an abstract electronic piece… then this amazing boink-synth comes in too, and I’m enthralled with the soundscape. A synth horn as well! I lost myself for a moment and so the breakbeat took me by surprise. Very cool sounds on this.
Deep bell and sharp, crips breaks start ‘Dreamstealer’ off strong. It is like a dream when the harmonies show up, a joyful flight through darkness and rain. It almost feels too short!
A discordant ambient drone happens at the beginning of ‘Diesel’, along with dark orchestral choir, and then a lite drum n bass-style breakbeat comes in. This feels like experimental drum n bass almost, though I guess it would fit squarely in the big beat camp as well for the first half of the track. Deep-space frequencies, grinding noise and frenetic breakbits shred it up for awhile, giving this a hardcore vibe. Too mental, emotionally abstract to be darkstep, maybe, but it’s pretty close to that sound.
Next is ‘Constellation’, a really nice, downtempo ambient breaks type track with strings and floaty synth whistle flute type sounds. Loving the rhythms on this one, plus the strange bassy thing that happens at the end of measures there for a minute. I feel like gazing up at the stars… funny how every time I start to write a description for how I’m feeling about each track, I’ll look back over at the title and realize that the artist already pretty much got it… or maybe they’re using some kind of auto-suggestion technique and that’s why that keeps happening? I don’t know. But, it really does have that feeling to it, that you want to watch shooting stars while sitting outside, maybe in a park like the one I used to live by with a large fountain that was never turned on.
The final track is ‘A Long Way Away’, which is also the longest track — roughly nine minutes in length. I’m not going to say this track makes me feel like I’m a long way away from anything, though it’s tempting now to do so, but will instead tell you that it’s got an uptempo 4/4 rhythm that’s really nice, along with some of the coolest synth sounds and leads of the whole album. These pretty sequences and plenty of atmospheric textures come in after a bit… some rhythmic zaps that are so cool. Eventually we reach a section with string ensemble, light touches of synth bass that grow louder along with the beat, emerging into the mix softly. When it regains volume, we are treated to some bell accompaniments. Later on it feels very techno/post-trance. This is probably my favourite track on the album. Lots of movement, beauty, love.
So, in final, I thought I’d mention a little of what I discovered about this group. It’s two artists, one in the US (Zachary Dendinger) and one in the UK (Paul Bolstridge). Both have compartmentalized their duties within the duo, Zac making all of the synthesized sounds and putting together the final mix and Paul doing the beats. I think that it is interesting to analyze the music by dividing attention to both the melodic and rhythmic components, given that both seem to be, throughout the album, very clear sounding. It’s the focus of attention both the artists have given to these separate aspects of their unified (in-post) sound that I think gives the music it’s excitement… the rhythms are as worked as the rest of the music, giving it a lot of complexity, and that both aspects are given proper respect in the final mix makes the whole album feel very dynamic. You should definitely have a listen-through at the following link: