Above & Beyond
My my Carbinax has been quite a busy body. 2018 saw two albums in March & September and luckily enough for us over at Touched Music, his latest offering has made it over our way. In fact he wasn't just busy last year - 2019 marks the 6th year that he's been kind enough to contribute to Touched Music for which we are very grateful.
'Above & Beyond' is a collection of original works and remixes, guaranteed to tickle your eardrums and turning up the volume. If you've followed the label for a while there's a good chance you're going to recognise a couple of the tracks here, as they appear either reworked by other talented artists or by Carbinax himself as alternate versions.
Everything has punch here. The sound is full and immersive, layers are rich and nothing feels extraneous. 'Morgana' is a really confident piece, heavily processed with jarring yet somehow fluid transitions between the concrète-style chopped female vocals.
The tracks have the kind of pace that I like. I'm equally happy closing my eyes and trying to concentrate as I am having this on in the background. The only problem with the latter is that I start rocking at my desk and my colleagues usually look at me like some kind of pleb. I'm not ashamed though, I can't help it with pieces like 'Walking In My Shoes', where staccato leads contrasts cadenced pads nicely.
Pacing is certainly something the author likes to play with also, with two good examples back-to-back that I shall tackle back-to-front. 'Scars' is a fantastic exercise in perception alteration - the inclusion of only one or two extra elements manages to perfect the frequent transitions between a rolling & progressive rhythm into something somewhat more measured & back again. It's hard to explain but easier to listen to and beautifully executed.
'Fracture' just manages to trick me, it's got a strong theme and a deceptive opening. One could be forgiven for thinking the opening 90 seconds will take you into an ultra-modern twist on a broken drum & bass journey, that ultimately settles for being something a lot more down-tempo. Great vocal work here though, the track-name is very fitting.
The inclusion of 'Tiger By The Tail' as the opening track truly makes me happy. Having previously appeared on the Found Sound compilation it's nice to hear a different version, albeit with subtle differences. It was a treat then and it's a treat now with an extended ending and a fuller sound. Regulars Plaid have offered a remix also, and it's the second time recently I've heard them depart from their signature style with a drone reworking. I'm not complaining, I always loved drones and this sounds like a very very healthy example of grain clouds.
And the other remixes are of good quality also. Fearful Symmetry also tackle 'Tiger by the tail', with an interesting technique that feels like they've managed to split the melody sequence over multiple instruments. It's good and if it increases the number of versions of this track currently in the wild I am happy. Carbinax lends his style to pieces from Ariadne's Labyrinth, Keiss, Min-Y-Llan, Pushkin & Nisho. All talented artists in their own right and it's great they appear here reworked.
It's good to hear 2ndMOUSE material here too. If you think you've heard 'Out of my control' before it's because you probably have, it was the opener for 'The Secret Chords' (also on Touched Music) and it's still as emotive and fun as it ever was. 'Strontium Dogs' also gets a remix taking it to a darker place from its original incarnation. I don't know who you are Stellaria Nemorum but thank you for doing this.
Outside of the mentioned highlights there's a lot of other good material here, from 'Memories of an Avatar' that invokes 80s-montage happy feelings, through the punchy 'Eskimo Girl', the almost-sleazy 'High Jinx' and 'Groove Dependency', aptly-named as you can really get locked in to this one and it's easy to understand how the artist may have felt when producing it, building things up nicely to make a completed piece.
There's always one track that gets me more than others and this time it's 'Tesla Coil'. I like this a lot. It's just one of those things that I can't explain but my brain very much agrees with it. Dance like a madman, all the way to the asylum I say.
This one's not to be missed people, as usual get your copy and support Touched Music - all proceeds go to Macmillan Cancer Support."
- Digital: £8.99
- CD: £10.99