Michael Santos: The Happy Error

On his third full-length The Happy Error (following Matters on Benbecula in 2006 and Soft Pocket on U-Cover a year ago), Michael Santos creates eleven tracks teeming with pretty textural swirl that's predominantly generated by guitars and sine waves, though you'd never recognize them as such after the London, England-based producer is done manipulating them. A given track's melodic content is relatively uncomplicated—slowly drifting chord progressions more often than not—but the end result is effective nonetheless, especially when said patterns act as anchors for the rambunctious activity that billows around them.

When flickering pitter-patter runs through multi-layered pieces such as “Balloon,” “Hopefully Helsinki,” and “Returning Champion,” one can't help but be reminded of Oval with the critical difference that Santos eschews dissonance and noise for an appealing sparkle that's warmer and overall more tranquil (the tumultuous “Upper Cosh” an admitted exception). Enhancing its placidity, a lulling rhythm underpins “Supercolour,” the lovely “Bamboo Scaffolding” makes a strong impression despite a short running time, and “Big Shifty” could easily pass for a nocturnal transcription of a forest's chattering insects and wildlife. Presumably, the titular “error” refers to the “accidents' that invariably arise when material is developed via software-based treatments, whereas “happy,” again presumably, refers to Santos ' unequivocal embrace of the results that come from the interactive man-machine process collaboration.

October 2008