The best things in music happen at the edges, at the boundaries and not necessarily beyond them. Don't let the name mislead you. This is no 'geek with laptop' project. Okay, Bitcrush's Mike Cadoo is an established artist in the arena of IDM and drum and bass, but this release clearly demonstrates a love of indie. This is not a drum and bass album. Structurally, it leans more toward the post rock school of "build and build to climax". Beats are mashed up, guitars doodle like the bastard offspring of Mogwai and The Cure and deranged robot electronics pop up from time to time to add fine detail.
There are vocals too. Frail, fragile laments both reflective (on themes of lost time) and defeatist "I can no longer follow/do this anyway". But if frustrations and regrets are at the center of this recording, the whole thing is underpinned by vastly contrasting music. Pretty melodies simmer with the implied danger that at any moment the whole track could boil over. Tensions are added with each layer and you know you're headed for an orgasm or two. Or more! And they come.
Post would probably sell the album on its own. Emerging from a Kitchens of Distinction swirl, Post treads a new path close to Mogwai's Helicon 1, holding back its electronics until a delicious false ending. Falling inward is a serene, oceanic vista whose tranquility belies its occasional robotic tendencies. The explosive Colder is a firm fan favourite, and there's insidious melancholy woven within the track In distance.
The whole album though is geared toward the climactic trio of Song for
three, Drop entitled, and And triage. Song for three wouldn't
be out of place on The Cure's Disintegration with its statuesque,
chiming guitars. The heart and soul of the album though has to be the cinematic Drop
entitled. Arguably this is the perfect blend of electronics, beats and
guitars. It isn't ambiance, rather it's a mood you cannot ignore. Like a
Kubrick movie, alienation slowly builds into rage and the result is a cathartic
turmoil trailing off into beautiful guitar skywriting. Very satisfying.
How refreshing then, to find in Bitcrush an electronic artist who clearly listens to music first and foremost, not solely his equipment. In distance could sit as easily between Appleseed Cast and Cocteau
Twins as it could between Autechre and Boards
Of Canada. It is without doubt one of the finest albums of the year. I also get the impression of an artist who still has his masterpiece within him. Like Jackson Pollock bent over his canvas trying out his drip method for the first time, Bitcrush is on the path to cracking it wide open. That will be something. For now though we have In distance.