reviewed by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
FMS-80 is one of the pseudonyms used by Joseph Auer. It is shorthand for FM Synthesis 1980, and is influenced by the Yamaha DX FM compositions of that time – and especially those made by a number of Japanese producers in their environmental tracks.
Auer offers a nine-track album as the second in the Lifestyle series, released on his co-founded label Rednetic. The artwork and musical language suggest a close kinship with the music of the Far East, so expectations are high for a production as clean and invigorating as suggested by the cover.
What’s the music like?
Richly rewarding. Auer spends much of his time on this album in the treble range, exploring brightly coloured textures and a wide range of timbres. Many of these explorations use consonant harmonies, bathing the listener in a warm glow, but there is always an edge to the ambience that stops it from becoming too comfortable.
Beidaihe Loop, for instance, is scored for a body of metallic, percussive sounds, its effect like a peal of bells. By contrast later tracks on the album have more white noise and scattered beats, with Changgo House behaving like an active radiation counter and Swedish Container adding white noise to the picture.
Esplanade View is a warm-hearted gem, softening the timbres and creating a rich pool of sound, beautifully realised as a track to dive into at high volume. Housing Development has a glitchy texture but pans out quite a way, its effect akin to silvery droplets landing on a windscreen. Engawa Pergola paints a watery picture, while Sentul East Atrium offers a rather beautiful open vista and another bright view for the headphone-based listener.
Does it all work?
It does, and Auer knits together the different shades and moods in a rather seamless patchwork of ideas. The titles and music are borne of the far East but travel well.
Is it recommended?
Enthusiastically. The Rednetic label is hitting its stride as a positive force to be reckoned with in electronic music, and this is another feather in their cap.
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