If post-rock today offers only the briefest
of death spasms, parts of the electronica world are certainly
alive and kicking. Here at EvilSponge we have been behind the
vision of labels such as n5MD, Resonant,
and Darla for
some while now. There are truly lovely things happening in
the genre of emotive electronica. Acts such as Port-Royal,
Hammock, and now Bitcrush are
earning the right to be discussed alongside not solely peers
(e.g., Ulrich Schnauss),
but also luminaries such as Mogwai and
beyond. Pushing against genre restraints, confounding expectation
and breaking through to fresh territory are gifts denied to
all but a few seminal artists, yet for my money Bitcrush always
had less to do with the "beat
and grind" of IDM (where Mike Cadoo started) and much more
to do with pioneering indie. Shoegaze certainly, but we can
no longer stick there. I could confidently trace the Bitcrush
family history back through Mogwai,
The Cure, New Order, and
back to (Third) Uncle Eno himself. Just listen to the submarine
descent that is A False Movement,
Part Treasure and part Power Corruption
and Lies, the effect is truly beautiful. Yet, arguably
only Bitcrush could sound like this. He has made this style
his own. Found his own voice and his own place alongside those
great names of the past.
Pearl is an absolute gem. (Excuse the terrible pun.)
Thank heavens for the post-rock/ambient/electronic artist who
grasps the power of restraint. No stale, formulaic, quietLOUD
pieces here. Epilogue In Waves is a fully rounded,
complete album. We cannot therefore frame our discussion in
terms of standout tracks. Like Bark
Psychosis' Hex or
Port-Royals Flares, you play this album in full.
Every time. Where there HAS been plenty of discussion, it seems,
is the subject of the album's meaning. Just what closure is Epilogue hinting
at? Let's consider the sleeve art (as I'm prone to doing).
After all, the artwork was every bit as chosen as the music
which made the final cut. I see a grey-blurred ocean vista
with the artist name and album title positioned below the horizon.
Conclusion? Where once, Bitcrush might have played on the surface
of something, this time he's going for full emersion.
He's going under.
If there is a sea change to be detected on Epilogue, could it
be a move toward the feel and style of a live band? Certainly this time around
there is far less emphasis on processed sound. Tides reminds me of
Mew's Am I Wry? No, albeit in stately, symphonic guise. Other tracks
defy the descriptive power of the written word. That, I think, is why we love
music beyond, say, poetry as an art form. And if you're like me, my God you're
going to love this elegiac, electrifying record.
We will wait to see then, whether Epilogue In Waves implies
a turning of the page, a new chapter or a different book altogether. Could
this be the last Bitcrush record? Maybe, but if he succeeds in pulling fans
of one genre across to another, whether it be rock to electronic or visa versa
then the death of Bitcrush will not be in vain. And if Cadoo has a band project
in mind, I'll be first in line, believe me. Critics used to talk in terms of "massive
crossover potential". I think Epilogue finally bridged the waters.