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  Arc Lab  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:
  Brett Spaceman  

Arc Lab is the artistic vehicle of Toronto-based Merdard Fischer, and is the latest in n5MD label's impressive roster of emotive electronic musicians. Yet where many contemporaries have chosen to permeate their work with acoustics and/or vocals, no.spectre remains a predominantly processed creation, relying on mood for its sought after humanity.

In keeping with many of his n5MD peers, Arc Lab unveils an album of tonal exploration. Many of these pieces are variations on a theme. Delicate keys flitter around the sound field like a visit to the butterfly house. Beats gently nudge the listener. The effect is almost Asian as no.spectre evokes a Zen-like atmosphere of gentle contemplation.

To appreciate no.spectre is akin to studying a dew-covered cobweb. At times you feel like holding your breath in case any sharp exhalation causes untold damage. Each composition is a detailed, fragile, filigree. Glockenspiel keys twinkle, beats pitter patter, but I turn up the volume on opener I'm All Vectors when the bass makes an appearance. I can luxuriate these deep, dub sounds reverberating around my home. What can I say? It's how I'm made. I'd take a bath in bass like this if I could.

The track Notch recalls electronic precursors Code and especially their Blind In the Darkness from Third Mind's classic release The Architect. The effect is coolness, yes, but softer and less jagged than, say WARP. I would bet serious money that every ice bar DJ will want to spin Versions in their set.

As we progress through the album more variety is revealed. The two tracks featuring vocalist Svitlana pushes the effect closer to Mům. And is Spectres Arc Labs response to M83's Car chase terror, segueing from child-narrated ghost story into processed beats and mash ups?

On the evidence of no.spectre, I don't think Arc Lab has the massive crossover potential of, say, label mates Bitcrush, whose own IDM barely conceals a music fan well versed in his indie/shoegaze classics. Arc Lab sit somewhere between the bass-cadet cool of Near The Parenthesis and the intangibility of Loess. However, within the down-tempo genre, I have a suspicion the album will meet with almost universal approval. Headphones will adorn T-shirted men stooped and nodding over decks. Beards will be tugged. Ice will clink into glasses and the coolest people in the world will have another fun night.

No spectre? I think Arc Lab show us the ghost in the shell. So get with the program.

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