Switched On – mōshonsensu: A Strange Dystopian Tundra (Rednetic)

moshonsensu

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

mōshonsensu is the moniker for Daryl Robinson, a UK producer making a fresh start under a pseudonym of Japanese origin. The commentary for his new album speaks with refreshing honesty of the importance of IDM and ambient music during the plight of a depressive episode in his life.

A Strange Dystopian Tundra could easily be a description of the landscape as we currently view it, as Robinson notes. “For me it represents dark times but also better times ahead hopefully. This album is combined with glitched beat patterns, melodic beauty and ambience woven together in a heuristic nature.”

What’s the music like?

Robinson’s music is equal parts meaningful, mysterious, uplifting and just occasionally troubling. In these respects it is an accurate reflection of feelings we have had throughout the last few years, but ultimately there is solace to be found in the ambient contours of his work.

Mystical Minds is a wonderful way to start, a track with a light touch but rich colours turning golden in the mind’s eye of this particular listener. Some of the mōshonsensu titles are amusing – Tedious Cricket, anyone?! – but in fact this is a track with a slowly rippling rhythm against a more distant hook line. The Detectives Walk In The Tundra is a striking addition, featuring a penetrating vocal from Jo Joyce, her contribution becoming a concentrated vocal refrain that sticks in the head. Sea Of Sound feels just like scattered footsteps on a shoreline, its beats allowed to run free, while Feel Down Innit also has busy activity, percussion flitting across the broad picture behind, like moths unwilling to settle – in this case possibly an effective depiction of anxiety and the fight against troubled thoughts.

Tribe has a serene but uncertain treble line, while Lost & Found Tape is a curious combination of angelic voices and grubby electro beats, a kind of inner city collage between the street and the church. Disposition Intact heightens this contrast, with big beats and airy voices, becoming a longer study of remote beauty.

Does it all work?

It does. The more you hear this album the more the emotional investment becomes clear, and yet it operates well on a surface level too.

Is it recommended?

Yes. By making an album that acknowledges the importance of ambient music to counter stress, mōshonsensu successfully faces the problem and gives us the obvious solution. As its title implies, A Strange Dystopian Tundra is not an easy ride, but it leaves the listener in a better place for hearing it.

It is also a timely reminder that to describe music as ambient does not short change the effect it can have on the listener.

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Switched On – FMS-80: Lifestyle 02 (Rednetic)

fms-80

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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Guest mix – Room of Wires collide with Rednetic

It is our great pleasure to welcome Room of Wires and their Rednetic label to the Arcana playlist section.

With their new EP Fever Switch out now, Room of Wires have shared with us a mix they did of their favourite artists on the label. This includes the duo’s own work, with one of the standout tracks from the EP, the shuffling Never Seen Before, blending into the powerful Silent Lines from their distinctive plague of people album released earlier this year, with the strong presence of industry amid the ambience.

The mix unfolds at a natural pace, with plenty of room to breathe – and settles after the dense mass of sound that begins the mix. Gradually the textures thin to reveal flickering electronic figures, and a steady beat asserts itself, from where the duo progress across an hour of excellent music. Later on the view pans out to the dub-infused electronica of Lachrylic, whose Tacet makes a strong impression, before the rich tones of Garden of Meditating Maqam Rast, by Lowriders Deluxe. Finally Room of Wires sign off themselves, with the expansive TouchToneOne, a sonic exploration prompted by steady beats.

Our thanks to Room of Wires for this special mix: