worriedaboutsatan: Arrivals

“Electronica” remains a dirty word in some circles but anyone hell-bent on exiling the genre from polite society might think otherwise after hearing worriedaboutsatan's Arrivals. Largely an uninterrupted travelogue of some seventy-two minutes (sixty-three minus edit versions of two tracks), the recording exemplifies some of the signature characteristics of the species yet despite doing so is never less than engaging. That's largely due to the finesse with which Gavin Miller and Tom Ragsdale weave a broad spectrum of sounds and styles—ambient, minimal techno, IDM, and post-rock four of the most prominent—into a captivating and transporting trip—in short, electronica the way it's supposed to be.

Of the thirteen tracks included, it's the longish ones that leave the strongest impression. “evil dogs” sucks the listener in with panoramic atmosphere and percussive clatter that echoes down reverberant corridors before a minimal techno pulse kicks in, and a thrusting bass that's in marked contrast to ethereal voices floating alongside. The plot thickens in the even deeper “i am a crooked man” where things take a seemingly bleaker turn when the burn of guitars adds a hellish dimension to the proceedings. The material sometimes seeps subliminally into one's psyche; at other times, it more aggressively imposes itself, as it does during the epic slow-build of “history is made at night” and the quietly euphoric propulsion of “you're in my thoughts.” The twirling keyboard patterns that animate “pissing about” complement the insistent techno swing that likewise gives the track heft. The beautifully sculpted closing title track slowly comes into focus with waves of murmured voices and synthetic strings gradually joined by a beating kick drum, percussive flourishes, and, best of all, a four-note guitar theme whose feedback-drenched cascade lends the piece ample drama. There are moments when traces of The Knife's disturbing style can be heard rising to Arrivals' surface though—the moniker notwithstanding—worriedaboutsatan is the less macabre outfit by comparison (attributable to a large degree to Arrivals' purely instrumental style).

May 2009