Sunday, October 4, 2009

Waiting For Tomorrow - Cheju

Waiting For Tomorrow

Distant Noise Records.

SCQ Rating: 64%

Following the release of Broken Waves on Boltfish Records, Waiting For Tomorrow is Cheju’s second full-length of 2009. Having finished seven records in six years, such is the break-neck pace Wil Bolton has preferred throughout his career, issuing humble love-letters to relaxed beats and tender melodies. Distinguishing itself from the pack, Waiting For Tomorrow leans closer to rainy day ambient music, often letting the beats rustle half-realized in the back of the mix. The resonating piano that leads ‘Birch’ shares the spotlight as sparingly as ‘Amner’ allows its mumbling keys to speak up, while ‘Salt House’ is a lovely folk progression that fails to develop into song. Moreso than previous affairs, Waiting For Tomorrow has a contemplative edge that unfortunately sounds as if Bolton recorded this waiting for inspiration instead of soundtracking it.

Luckily Cheju’s latest doesn’t spend all its time wandering around the house. As the stuttering beats of ‘Grid Reference’ off-center some lovely keyboard melodies, ‘Unfold’ is classic Distant Noise electronica, all shimmering keys and laptop loops that spawn the wide-open feel only shoegaze can instill. These tracks are oasis’s, however; the few instances which find Cheju’s structures fastened down and eagerly motivated, among Waiting For Tomorrow’s beat-driven efforts or not. Although technically beat-oriented, ‘Half Remembered’ and ‘Loom’ keep time with tired, unwavering breakbeats; the former running a complacent seven minutes. For a disc so short on surprises, it’s downright shocking that ‘Neon Drift’, the longest track here at nearly ten minutes, feels like a godsend. What begins like another buzzing stalemate takes shape with Bolton’s treated guitar work, which echoes eloquently over a soundscape that organically grows from buzzes, to underwater gleams, to deft beat-programming.

The odd yawn aside, there’s nothing stylistically or technically ill-fated about Waiting For Tomorrow; in fact on paper it sounds low-key and pretty. And I can’t even argue that. What is abundantly clear, however, is that Cheju doesn’t seek any new ventures that haven’t already been pillaged and discarded by the likes of Arovane and Ulrich Schnauss a near-decade ago. Waiting For Tomorrow doesn’t underwhelm because it isn’t progressive, it underwhelms because it operates as if progression in electronica never happened. For an artist of such prolific nature, Cheju's conservative streak seems quite at odds with what should be a gradual evolution.

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