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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Bodycode
The Conservation of Electric Charge
Spectral Sound

Rating: 7/10 ?


August 10, 2006
I learned a couple things about electronic music with this review. It's hard to keep up with because it seems like with every new album that is released under the umbrella term "electronic," there is automatically born a new subgenre. With rock music there is indie rock, metal, ska, punk, blah blah blah - all fairly easy to decipher from one another. In electro one could have subgenre word pairings that take longer to say than the album's running time itself. Example: Detroit-based, micro-house, leftfield ambient, glitch-hop. And, yeah, even though it seems like it could apply to some production team from the Motor City, I just made that one up.

For Bodycode, aka Alan Abrahams - who is also Portable - a subdivisional breakdown of his style is almost necessary because of his background and musical theory. Originally born and raised near Capetown, South Africa, Abrahams has also resided in London and Lisbon, Portugal. The diversity in each of these areas has no doubt given this DJ the opportunity to incorporate different styles and attitudes into electronic music that it has rarely seen. Some credit him with a unique blend of African and four-on-the floor dance rhythms in work from his other moniker, Portable. He was also initially interested in creating dance tracks that could tell a sub-message of the political strife in his birthplace. With Bodycode, this is no longer his feat. Instead Abrahams claims to be interested in unlocking the mind with the movements of the body - a convention that is by no means new, but nonetheless more advanced than the generally low-brow club-indulging beats and practices of other digital sound creators.

To somewhat understand Abraham's first release under Bodycode, entitled The Conservation of Electric Charge, you have to examine the label and the genre a little bit. The unknowing would simply call it techno and move on with an "oonce oonce" thumping in the depths of their throat.

This release, however, has a surprisingly adept texture, as well as a variance in track moods. Abrahams doesn't get stuck in the on/off game, but instead crafts with middling sound levels in mind. And this is not only in regards to amplification levels but for choosing when and what samples to use. Much of the effectiveness for Bodycode comes when the production is gradual in building and deconstructing its many elements and layers.

The meticulous production of The Conservation of Electric Charge has been described as many things, from click-and-cut to microhouse to minimalist techno glitch. In a way, all three of these examples accurately tell what is going on. The release label, Spectral Sound, is the home of such avant dance and electronic ventures and Bodycode fits right in. Some of the other artists on the label are also known under microhouse and minimalist techno accounts, with Matthew Dear and Todd Osborne being the most prominent [a Bodycode track was utilized on Matthew Dear's Audion mix for the Fabric series].

So what does Bodycode really sound like? Take the complex hit placement of a rhythmic experimenter like Autechre and make it dance-oriented, or in other words, fit it into a more standard and spread out pattern. Hear: a couple deft low-frequency ("bass") thumps are juxtaposed against middle-frequency fills and on the 2 and 4 you can hear a plastic tubed snare/sharp hi hat battering. Quick metallic dribbles are followed at the end of the measure by a static-y spitting of sound. The overall rhythmic synchronicity controls the tempo and spirit (upbeat, mellow, sterile, et cetera).

Now take small shavings of a dodging digital synth melody, and place it on the afterbeat in the way a ska guitarist strums his guitar. Also added are random clicks, fuzzy sounds, vocal spittings, and other such bits of audio dust. In the background are breathing ambient chords which control the color and mood of the track.

As a form the music is innately dance-able, but it is also technical to the point of being cerebral. Bodycode is a pseudonym that doesn't challenge convention as Abraham's other project Portable does. The melodies are infectious but not anything especially unique and the beatplay tinkers astray but usually finds it way back to four-on-the-floor, especially with sound samples that are easy to catch on to.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger

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