15 January 2016
aidanrowan - consummation
I really do not have much to say at the start of this review to be honest; just a few weeks ago I was contacted by aidanrowan (I know that it should be Aidan Rowan, but that is how it has turned out on my iTunes so that is how I am posting it). As far as I can see from his Bandcamp page, he is an experimental lo-fi artist who has been releasing a few EP's and some singles. After that I do not have much of an idea about this man and his background/previous releases, so this is really gonna be very short in term of introduction - but not in terms of tracks as this is a eighteen track album. So, without much further ado let us see how the music turns out....
Starting the album is “another day perhaps” and you are already on the downward spiral as the record unfolds into an electronic downbeat tune that wails like a banshees announcing that someone is to die soon, it is slow and methodical with a tendency to drone and take its time to move between the separate pitches. I really like it, it is an atmospheric piece that could have been expanded a bit long and it has some interesting ideas. “I don’t know, do you?” has a machine beat that is placed over a gentle set of keyboards and a guitar loop that is added to the mix. Once again I am liking the song, it is an interesting mood piece but it needs to be played loud for the dividends of the song to come to light. A mixture of Martin Gore & Mogwai is on offer here, but it is slightly too short once again and the idea could have been fleshed out once more. “without end” is the third track and this one sounds like the last bells of Albion have told and the desolate winds are howling as mankind sinks into distant memory. It is all grainy, with scratches, lonesome guitars and a sense of unease to the proceedings; truth be told I love this one, it reminds me of the darker period of trip-hop/noise music and that is a time where everything was very interesting indeed - this song will send shivers down the spine of anyone who possess a soul. “I feel asleep in your dream last night” is the next song and it is a haunting guitar loop which raises and softens at various points of the song. It is a beautiful number that actually makes the seem like a distant dream. It is an effective piece of music, very relaxing and therapeutic to the brain. Mainly because “everything is changing” which follows is a loud explosive piece of noise that sounds like The Bug and Therapy? decided to make a song together. This tune is given the full chance to breath and extend itself as the music loops like a train going on to forever, it will challenge a few people and it is truly worth sticking with as it sounds as if the heavens are falling and this is the sound track to that night.
“please disappear” is the next song on the album and it feels like a nature progression from “I feel asleep in your dream last night” and “everything is changing” and that they form a natural trilogy with this acting as the ending piece to this act. It is mostly the guitar effects once again, but with a lot more reverb and pitch being added to the haunting melody that is on offer. Once more it is something that you can be lost in, it is a beautiful piece of music. With a grainy drum pattern “okay then bye” is the next song with has a retro/distant effect to the guitars which is slightly at odds with the percussion of the song, creating a tense atmosphere to this song that could be compared to a horror film where something is in the background. It never truly reveals itself, but it is there and it is waiting for you. It is a good song that is a little too long for the idea, but it does have a charm and when the synth kicks in towards the end that makes you wonder if that was to have been a signal for the next song; sadly, this is not the case as it just fades out to the void. “oh well, not again” however has more intertwining pieces and has a harsh electronic thud that can punch holes through walls. It drifts between the sections with ease, but it is not as instant as other sections of this album. “incarnation” is the midway point of the album which an ocean of sound and noise at the beginning, however you can hear a guitar tune coming through the sound and it moves like the sea with things going backwards and forwards throughout the song. It is a challenging piece, one that requires a lot of time for it to sink in; however…. however, once it has sunk and entrapped you in its snare, there is no getting out and you would not want to leave anyway. This song does not let your mind rest and you just have to hold on for the duration of the song, enjoying the ride as you go along as well.
“levitation” starts the second half with a gentle guitar strumming in a fussy background that changes to a guitar plucking that follows its own path and it sort of meanders from note to note until it starts to pick up a little bit of pace towards the end. It is nice enough, but it feels like an idea more than a finished product. “exponential” can only be described that the yang to the ying of “levitation”; it has noisy drums, a rain of synths and changes in tone and pitch that make it a hard song to ignore. It is one of the highlights of this record, reminding a lot of early 80’s noise art rock and making as much sense – of course I love it. “tragic” is even more intriguing, sounding as if Massive Attack have reformed and are only releasing instrumentals. It sounds like a nightmare in sound and the bass kick in it is fierce, as the song goes on you are given ghoulish sounds that are off-kilter with the rest of the song and it makes you slightly dizzy…. it is a great tune that really impresses me, but it is one that could have also been expanded on a bit more. “sad song” starts with various guitar strumming and does not move on much from there; it is pleasant enough and there is the beginning of an idea there, but it needs a little more work if the truth be told.
“clouds” is much like “sad song”, it is a strumming song that does not move on from the original idea and whilst it might be formed and finished for the artist it feels like a little more was needed when you compare it to “tragic”, “without end” or “levitation”. “erosion” follows the same guitar only pattern, but this time with the distortion peddle on and yet again I am wondering what more could have been made with something else happening. Now do not get me wrong, it is a nice tune and has loads of little notes that are slightly out, it feels warm and inviting; but it also sounds as if it was a demo for the next stage and that makes it something that I would only like a little instead of a lot. Once more we have the fuzzy feedback of Dinosaur Jr happening with “jessica’s happy song” and it is another nice tune that sounds as if it is either waiting for something more to be added to the song. Towards the end of the tune, the guitar starts to distort and warp a bit, however it is not enough to takes this one above demo track status again. The penultimate tune is called “sleep” and this is a clear guitar track that is gentle on the ears and is the best of the acoustic only songs for me. It is the first in a while that feels as if it is the finished article and is compact enough to keep your interest, definitely one of the highlights of the second half of this album. “resolution” end this long album on a sinister note, once again it is mostly just the guitar and slow strumming with pieces of feedback and a slight sense of unease. It is a track that follows the pattern of needing something extra on it to give it more power and which could elevate it, but it is still not bad – just not complete either.
I think that sometimes less is more and this release could have been helped with this. Eighteen track on a release is quite a lot and when some of them feel like them need more time to grow it is hard going in places, but sometimes you need artist who do just put everything out there at once as this has never hurt the careers of people like John Zorn. Now in places this really does work, especially when there is more than just the guitar in place (which is still played really well throughout the album). But it does need a few adjustments to a few things and there may be pieces that aidan rowan comes back to in the years to come, I hope he does as there are a few gems on here awaiting to be formulated into some shoegazing, avant-garde delights, or it could have been two separate releases which would have worked just as well. It is worth listening to, but it might take some time as well. One thing I would also like to point out, just as I was starting the review I emailed aidan rowan to say I had not forgot about them and they were very polite; they also pointed out that this album works better when you use headphones and are immersed in the sound. It does sound pretentious but I have to say it works, thankfully it is also how I review all albums due to not wanting to give the rest of the world nightmares when I change musical direction so quickly. But check out the album, it is interesting at the very least and you might find some moments that will suit your mood.
7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out
Top song – exponential
You can download consummation on Bandcamp here
You can also follow aidanrowan's activities on SoundCloud here
At present this album is not available on streaming sites; but saying as it is a free purchase on Bandcamp, you have no excuse not to listen to it.
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