Thursday, August 13, 2009

Colour Codes - Red Box Recorder

Colour Codes

Red Box Recorder
Acroplane Records.

SCQ Rating: 84%

Every few years an electronic album arrives that shines a light upon its genre from a previously unseen angle, one that no one perceived but everyone flocks to once said focus is pointed out. Endtroducing… did that, Music Has the Right to Children too… and those artists responsible for lamping new directions inevitably carry the notoriety/burden of a pioneer for the rest of their careers. Between these prophetic arrivals we, as avid collectors, celebrate the best of our critical grayscale; records that cause a surge in the electronic scene whereby an artist puts their personal spin on breakthrough styles. Melody AM accomplished that, From Here We Go Sublime too; records that borrowed from the old and created something startlingly fresh. Adding another to that category, Acroplane proudly presents Red Box Recorder, whose sophomore album Colour Codes is as multilayered and jubilant as the best 2009 has to offer.

As far as comparisons go, Colour Code’s adventurism is most reminiscent of Four Tet’s Rounds; a kaleidoscope of moods that bounce between urban break-beats (‘Ghost Trio’), symphonic build-ups (‘Unabomber’) and house rhythms (‘Kid Cadmium’)… and that’s just the first three tracks. What holds it all together – as it did for Kieran Hebden - is an obsessive’s attention to texture and sequencing. The minimal techno beat which opens ‘Too Young to Rave’ undergoes several transformations – including ceasing altogether - before concluding as a driving, complex collision-point, while ‘Leonard’ is a contemplative IDM track, replete with distant percussion and padded keyboard melodies. As some vaguely dubstep-ish rhythms grab ‘In/Out’ by the throat and offer some urban grittiness, ‘The Leading Edge’ dives for the opposite end of the pool with a clubbing track that channels Gui Boratto’s meticulous approach to trance while accommodating all of Red Box Recorder’s previous excursions; the orchestral cut-ups, the inside-out beats, that evaporating choir of drones. And, being Colour Codes’ last track, this grand closure lends gravitas to a superb sequencing job, as the unnamed London-based artist shuffles his/her talents to ensure the disc never feels unbalanced. Truthfully, the title says it all; here’s a woven rainbow of elastic sounds and beats that displays a confidence uncommon for an artist with only one previous album to hoist.

Colour Codes, while an update on established styles, stands out as both technically audacious and deserving of some dedicated attention. Highlights with the crossover potential of ‘My R2 Unit’ and the delicate touch of ‘Up With the Bunting’ are among the better electronic tracks I’ve heard this year, and should be ambassadors for Red Box Recorder’s coming-out party. Much like Rounds, Colour Codes doesn’t aim to have a monolithic impact on electronica’s identity; it won’t change the genre but it might just change your life. In my experience, these personal albums rival the critic’s best.

Available FOR FREE on the incessantly surprising Acroplane label.

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