Sunday, November 8, 2009

Things Gone Wrong - Detritus

Things Gone Wrong

Ad Noiseam Records.

SCQ Rating: 74%

As anyone familiar with the German imprint is likely aware, Ad Noiseam’s eclectic roster of artists all seem to share a united sense of dread. From forays into doom metal to the more unassuming exercises in drum’n’bass, IDM, and ambient, Ad Noiseam thrives in the market of edge-of-your-seat atmospheres, dwelling a few accessibility points shy of your average college radio playlist. It’s an admirable albeit overcast territory to stake, one which occasionally risks dropping casual listeners at the expense of its affinity for intimidation. That’s where Detritus comes in; lacing his aggressive beat-work with a palpable sense of foreboding, David Dando-Moore reminds us that being sinister can have its gratifying upsides too.

Boasting a broadened scope compared to previous efforts, Things Gone Wrong finds Dando-Moore inviting diverse influences to his electronic sandbox. Packing hard-edged breakbeats and synthesized strings, ‘Archipelago’ is an early indication that Detritus is lessening his stranglehold on industrial moods, offering a slicker electro-pop sound where heavier instruments once prevailed. ‘Haunted’ and ‘Breaking Eggshells’ tread a similar sonic tightrope with varying levels of success; the former chases its own tail layering undulated keys over urban beats while the latter effectively weaves complex, reserved hits into tight atmospheric passages. The biggest - and arguably, the best – surprises to the Detritus sound arrive in the form of nuanced, low-key compositions that eschew all that’s ominous in favour of crystal-clear, cinematic electronica. As soft arpeggios and steady beats make up the dreamy ‘Ghostwritten’, ‘Field of Dead Leaves’ and ‘Drift’ go a step further for solace with patient guitar, piano and field-recordings. By lowering his guard for IDM and organically influenced mood-pieces, Dando-Moore gives Things Gone Wrong an ebb and flow that, like its cover-art suggests, feels as unconfined and limitless as an unmarked horizon.

That isn’t to say Things Gone Wrong steps away from its penchant for dread. Before the Detritus moniker came to be, Dando-Moore was a member of the now-defunct band Eterne and that metal background remains audible throughout the mood of his fourth solo album. Alongside slasher-esque orchestration and racing BPM, ‘Entropy’ is a gauntlet of driving guitars and unflinching menace whereas ‘Bookburner’ bears an organ melody reminiscent of derelict horror-movie soundtracks. Peering between these scare tactics and peaceful ruminations is ultimately Dando-Moore’s strong suit; a middle-ground that balances devious, minor-key drama with subtle electronic tones. Opening track ‘Left Behind’ accomplishes just that, delivering prominent beats amid careful verses and heavy, industrial choruses. Presenting several sides of Detritus’ sound, Things Gone Wrong – despite its title – is not a worst case scenario but a testament to Dando-Moore’s unique style, which is most convincing when mixing risk with restraint.

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