Monday, September 14, 2009

Sure Is the Risk Made - Conelrad

Sure is the Risk Made

Munch House Records.

SCQ Rating: 75%

Among the great many things to love about Boards of Canada’s sound, it’s worth noting that even sound-alikes - who in most music fields would be roundly rejected - can create some wonderful material without being panned. Not only is this true because Boards of Canada basically represents an entire sub-genre of electronica (making it pretty hard for others artists to share the sandbox) , but also because the Scottish duo’s frugal output hints at so many possible directions; the wide-eyed melodies of Music Has the Right to Children, the subliminal disturbia of Geogaddi, and on and on. Without such landmarks, we wouldn’t have Ulrich Schnauss or Epic45 or Millimetrik or Conelrad, the nameless PhD student responsible for Sure Is the Risk Made, an album that channels BoC’s hazy melodies into a beautiful, sometimes inscrutable release.

If we were to play the name-that-BoC game, Sure Is the Risk Made would definitely pinpoint The Campfire Headphase for all intents and purposes; using treated guitar over his waterlogged soundscapes, most of these songs carry the soft-edged serenity that 2005 album sought to perfect. And for the first few songs, Conelrad makes a solid bid to dethrone it. ‘Up Periscope’ washes in with percolating keys and resonating guitar for a head-nodding daydream while ‘Charger Paris Mirage’ steals attention with a pillowed guitar pattern and soothingly warped keys. By the end of ‘Byford Dolphin’, which slides at a glacial pace into a beat-driven meltdown, I needed no further convincing that Sure Is the Risk Made is comfort-music, destined for comatose Sundays and late-night noodling. After that three-peat, Conelrad settles into the record’s moody core with ‘Paternoster’, a stuttering evolution of beats anchored by a distant squall, and ‘S.O.S. To the Entire World’, an elegant slab of slo-core electronica that plays its drama like your favourite trance song dragged to a hypnotic groove.

At seven minutes each, those two tracks act as a hard-to-beat centerpiece, separating the poppier – admittedly top-heavy – half from the more elusive ambient back-end. From low-key symphonics on ‘Daughter (For Sara)’ to the barely there ‘Magnet’, Sure Is the Risk Made lets go of the reigns near the end, as if Conelrad sequenced this song-cycle around the premise that his listeners should be asleep by this point. It wouldn’t surprise me; as well as insisting that his music remain free (did I not mention that this album, not to mention all his others, are free?), Conelrad claims to create music as a method of relaxation. As this record is therapeutic to him, I have no doubt Conelrad would take Sure Is the Risk Made’s rep for being an excellent bedtime companion as a point of pride. Until the Scottish duo emerge with anything new (or, you know, update their website for the first time since summer 2006), I recommend familiarizing yourself with Conelrad’s latest.

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