Joseph Auer: Inner Galaxies

VA: Tandem Series 5

Boltfish has issued more than its share of quality electronic music during the past few years but Inner Galaxies, a superbly crafted, hour-long collection of lush tech-house material by Japan-based Joseph Auer, may very well be its strongest release to date. On his third album, Auer, who works as an IT Software Engineer in Yokohama and lives with his family in Tokyo, draws upon cities of personal significance—Japan, London, Chicago, Detroit, and New York City—for inspiration. The Chicago-born Auer treats his titles seriously, too, with many of them matched to their aural content: layers of churning rhythms dominate “Industrial Funk,” incessant barrages of electronic noises stream like meteor showers in “Inner Galaxies,” and lustrous acid streams streak across the sky in “Starknight 303.” Throughout the thirteen-song collection, Auer's multi-layered melodies unfurl iridescently while pulsating, sometimes tribal beats bump and roll. The album's jubilant spirit seemingly peaks with the penultimate “Love Disco Love (Analog House Mix)” and its sparkling fusion of electro motifs and disco-funk beats but then ascends even higher during the near-euphoric closer “Outer Galaxies.” In true Boltfish spirit, Inner Galaxies' crisp material manages to be both accessible and melodic without compromising its integrity or quality.

Boltfish's latest Tandem release pairs Milieu (South Carolina resident Brian Grainger, who began producing computer-based material in 2002 after teaching himself how to play guitar, drums, bass, and keyboards) with ENV(itre) (Polish-born Miroslaw Majewski whose graduated from playing with 8-bit Atari sounds to producing his own material in 1997 using sampled sounds).

In contrast to Auer's material, Milieu's exudes an understated ambient hip-hop vibe that merges woozy Boards of Canada-styled psychedelia with downtempo beats—the ideal soundtrack for making it through that groggy Sunday morning. Though the six tracks are all decent, the heavier plod of “Charcoal” makes a strong impression while the clusters of warm synth figures in “Schoolbells” sparkle effervescently. ENV(itre)'s evocative material offers a natural complement to Milieu's though Majewski's tracks occasionally veer into grimier territory. “Oaetometq,” for instance, comes closer to machine-oriented funk than hip-hop, with assorted clangs peppering its burbling funk rhythms. His four tracks show a wide range, as evidenced by the darkly dramatic “Salecareal” and the dreamy oasis “Loyr vacn.”

December 2006