Pete Warren: Ambient Electronica 94-06
Kuiper Belt

Don't be put off by the generic Ambient Electronica 94-06 title and the CD's silly cover photograph, as Pete Warren's debut collection is definitely decent enough to reward one's attention. Unfortunately, the title is not only generic, it's misleading too, as the hour-long collection, issued on his own Kuiper Belt label, is generally far removed from wallpaper music, and, furthermore, hardly sounds as dated as the title might suggest, even if some of it does go back thirteen years. In a previous incarnation, the London-based sound and graphic designer (his Amoeba typeface is available through FontShop) produced lo-fi industrial music, which may explain why traces of that harder-edged style occasionally surface in his current melodic electronic style.

On the more aggressive tip, piano melodies interweave dynamically alongside whistling electronic tones and beats in “Milendrical,” while “Airspace” and “Technicolour” nicely ground bubbly synth atmospheres with bottom-heavy funk rhythms and breakbeats, respectively. The album includes its share of placid settings. “Quiescent” has been heard in multiple contexts already (on Rob da Bank's BBC Radio 1 show and at the Typo Berlin 2007 conference) and it's understandable that its pretty tapestry of minimal synth melodies would have broad appeal. “Refraction,” a glistening vignette of keyboard sparkle, and “Wheat,” a melancholy meditation, are lovely, too, and the lulling calm of the eight-minute closer “Lost Static” isn't unappealing either. On the downside, the album won't win awards for innovation and it's about ten minutes too long (the mid-album trio “Wave Thing,” “Spirals,” and “Ice” could be excised at no great loss); even so, the quality level generally remains high throughout.

August 2007