Switched On – Eumig: 23 (Courier Sound)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

A fascinating challenge lies behind this album. Recently Courier Sound released an album of 23 tracks in 23 minutes by their artist Alien (aka Alastair Johnson), and it was so successful that label head Stuart Bowditch decided to set the same challenge for Eumig, aka Nick Dawson.

Given Dawson’s preference for working with drawn out structures, this needed a change of approach – akin to asking Schoenberg to write wearing Webern’s hat. He has responded with a set of musical postcards that meet the brief and create a very concentrated piece of work.

What’s the music like?

Fascinating and extremely varied. Dawson has in effect created a single work by taking the small cells and knitting them together. The music moves between the ideas logically, and flits between intimate asides and much bigger textures, the camera panning out to take in enormous vistas.

Each minute has its own important part to play, but highlights include the distinctive sighing motif of Law Of Diminishing Returns, then the glitchy pair of Electronic Communication and Audio Lingual Acquisition, introducing a sharper edge to proceedings. Worship Of Heavely Bodies is appropriately stellar, while the friendly signals of Primary Colours are nicely placed. Pteroylmonoglutamic Acid (easy for you to say!) has a big presence, like a large assembly of machinery grinding into action.

Does it all work?

Yes. There are some extremely concentrated ideas here, many of which could easily run for much longer and carry the same intensity. The tapestry is woven in a compelling fashion however, Eumig’s thoughts logical to follow but also taking a few unexpected turns.

Is it recommended?

Yes. 23 is a great idea for a challenge to throw down to a composer, and for someone used to composing in much longer forms Nick Dawson handles the shorter form with aplomb. It will be interesting to see what effect this form of working has on his output in the future.



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