Tapage: Fallen Clouds
Tympanik Audio

Fallen Clouds, Tapage's follow-up to last year's debut album The Institute Of Random Events, contains the expected amount of hyperactive whirr-and-click drum programming and electronic dreamscaping, but it also offers something more: a tasteful and oft-restrained handling of sonic materials that—in those cases where it's exercised—gives Netherlands native T. Ham's music an alluring dimension. In “Oppose,” for example, twilight melodies shimmer and glisten softly behind intricate beats that squiggle relentlessly upfront while relatively uncluttered beat pattern enables the gentle synth atmospheres in the even better “Nail Cut” to become more prominent without compromising the tune's forward thrust. “Clap Retrial” impresses too, with sun-kissed melodies and strings prominently positioned and only partially undermined by an overly-busy beat accompaniment. “Notbremse” even welcomingly dispenses with beats during its opening three minutes, allowing Tapage, who in a previous incarnation toiled as a guitarist in a Netherlands-based metal-hip-hop band, to demonstrate his talent for creating experimental ambient material.

Tapage covers a generous amount of ground in the album—traces of breakcore and hip-hop surface in “Oval Shaped Square” and “The Silent Hours” respectively, for example—but the album's obvious downside is the producer's tendency to clutter tracks unnecessarily with overly-busy beat programming. A track such as “ML7W” would be a beautiful string-based interlude were it not torpedoed by gratuitous rhythmning. In those cases where Tapage reins in the impulse, the material blossoms, especially when its melodic side is given a chance to occupy the spotlight. Hear, for instance, how appealing “Low Volt” becomes when the restrained beat patterning supports rather than dominates the track's lush atmosphere and gentle melodies; the closing “What I Wish Upon None” likewise strikes a successful balance.

July 2009