Climate Variations

By Elizabeth Wells

Like a lot of contemporary electronic musicians, Mitchell Akiyama and Joshua Treble are separated by plenty of air miles (Akiyama is based in Montreal, Treble in Cincinnati), but as any aspiring digital technician knows, this is no obstacle in an age where you're only ever a mouse-click away from instant communication. The result of various email exchanges, sound file uploads and CDrs, 'Desormais' (French for 'from now on') presents a mixture of underground rumblings, looped noise and fragments of guitar and piano. In fact the key word is 'organic' and this works as a unifying theme – from the introductory World Remains, with its almost elemental dub feel – to the closing Gaza Strip whose organic snuffling and scraping noises are nevertheless offset by an insistent 4/4 beat.

It is quite difficult to pick highlights, as much of it is beautiful and repays listening. Ruin Her Slowly introduces a gentle lullaby via crunchy beats and a lilting guitar hook, sounding someway between Brian Eno and The Cure as they might be if they dropped Robert Smith. Infectious without ever being intrusive, this is lovely melodica for the 21st century. Devant et Dessus presents a gorgeous collage of strings with echoes of seabed and submarine and then this progresses into the guttural rumbles and womb-like washes of Failure for Every Flavour, which leads into what sounds like a reel of a warped organ. As its provocative name suggests, Violent Feelings Often Pass increases the pace with some warm beats that sound akin to the pulse of a human heart and then builds up plangent guitar fragments, reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine. Suspense de Vent delivers improvised drums – perhaps tablas – and panpipes at a stately pace, sounding a little like Boards of Canada's Wildlife Analysis.

Unlike many additions to the glitchcore/abstract soundscape scene, Desormais surprise and enliven with their constant shifts in pace and in the way that all the various elements of their music are constantly mutating and finding new forms of expression. A mature and at times stunning work, this should be on every music lover's shelf.
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