I like electronic music. I think that i have made that perfectly
clear in my reviews here. I like hearing computer-manipulated
sounds, and i think that some really interesting stuff can be
done that way.
Sure, it's fundamentally different from organic music. It often
seems "cold" or "removed". I think that's an effect of there
being a machine directly between the performer and the listener.
It often doesn't feel as "alive" to me as music made by a bunch
of people with guitars.
But that's not always the case. And the Underland
EP by Miles Tilmann is a perfect example of that. This music
seems alive in some way. It breathes, moves, and flows in a
very nice and relaxing fashion.
I think it's all in the keyboards. As i know from seeing
him perform, Tilmann plays the keyboards that are all over
this disc. It's not purely electronic music, it's some sort
of synth pop hybrid. I guess it's the logical next step after
Depeche Mode and those keyboard based bands of the 80's.
Whatever. It's a pretty cool EP though. It's very relaxing,
with keyboard washes flowing in and out, and sampled beats booming
through layers of echo.
It clocks in at exactly 29 minutes, and Tilmann crams 8 songs
into that timeframe. Let's examine them, shall we?
Underland starts with the aptly named Unfold.
An ambient drone glows warmly and then subdued head-bopping
beats pulse in. Way in the background are torn up vocal samples
that exist in some subconscious and not quite understood realm.
It's like waking up at a concert, the song persists in a pre-wakefulness
state. Relaxing, yet moving at the same time.
Unfold blossoms into the brief interlude of Letting.
This is a very ambient track in which a deep bass sound wavers
alongside keyboard drones. It's a sci-fi soundtrack type of
song -- the sort of music that is played as a huge starship
floats by on some sinister task, no doubt loaded up with heavily-armed
But this ship apparently has some engine trouble. The next
track, Underland is a lovely little piece of slowly building
keyboards and crunchy beats that start, hesitate, and stop.
Snippets of stuttering voices join the beats. This song really
reminds me a lot of Telephasic Workshop, my favorite
track off of Music Has The Right To Children by
Boards Of Canada. Of course, the texture of the song is different,
but that whole stuttering vocal samples thing is really similar.
Not to say that i think Tilmann is ripping of BoC, but rather
than both artists use this nifty effect of creating an interesting
rhythmic texture out of heavily manipulated vocals. I like the
effect, but i understand how this might not really be for everyone,
especially those who really like to hear what the voices are
After his Boards Of Canada moment, Tilmann gives us Warm/Cool,
which is an ambient interlude similar in nature to Letting.
It's another short tune of deep bass. Nice.
Sunday brings back the beats, but this time they are
totally flattened out -- a heavily muffled kick drum sample
and some fuzzy cymbal hits drive this interlude along.
It too is over before you know it, bringing the EP to Mother/Father.
The beats come back into focus, and Tilmann plays a happy little
keyboard riff over top of them. They keyboards drive this song
as synth washes ebb and flow over the drum beats.
The synths completely take over for Memory 4, another
short interlude. Tilmann uses these interludes quite nicely.
They break up the pace of the album and return the listener
to a state of rest after each of the beat driven tunes.
Tilmann wraps things up with Derail, which takes up
a whole third of the EP by itself. It's a slowly building song
of echoed keyboards and good solid drum beats. It gets your
head bopping. It's a fun little tune, and sort of wraps up the
general keyboards and beats motif of the entire disc.
On the whole i am impressed by this EP. It shows a lot of potential,
and makes for some really interesting listening. Tilmann makes
interesting sonic textures, and i look forward to hearing more.