Monday, May 14, 2012

Hollow - Known Rebel


Known Rebel
Tympanik Audio.

SCQ Rating: 72%

As an electronic duo carving out a reputation amid countless hobbyists and imitators, Known Rebel must know they’re testing fate on Hollow’s opening cut. If the Aphex Twin styled breakbeats and Boards of Canada-esque analog work weren’t hazardous enough as touchstones to another era – not to mention other electronic artists – these guys just had to call the track “Anonymous”. It’s a title that likely didn’t read as self-referential in the studio but will resound with arced eyebrow for many high-functioning electronic-music listeners. Given a few spins, however, “Anonymous” outplays its easy assumptions by staying true to its core by letting beats skitter playfully over tried-and-true machine melodies.

Hollow, by extension, promises the same reliability with over half a dozen tracks that motor on urban beats and soothe with stretches of agreeable keyboard lines. Tracks like “Neigh” and “Gathering of the Argonauts” would rather oscillate pleasantly than confront listeners with left-field aggression. And although Known Rebel won’t be awarded many accolades for that conservatism, they should certainly win over new fans tired of the present day’s maximized genre-mashing. The duo’s subtle elements of drum-and-bass and glitch get magnified on Hollow’s remix-filled latter half, but not so much that Known Rebel lose their sonic footing. If anything, the record would’ve felt sleeker had it dropped the more showy side-attractions like 2methylBulbe10l’s remix of “Helium-3” and Lucidstatic’s industrial-leaning contribution, mostly because Known Rebel’s modest goals seem at odds with a bloated seventy-minute run-time.

The record doesn’t characterize itself as a throwback – in fact, it refuses to contextualize any purpose at all besides an eagerness to supply weary listeners with enough brain candy to satisfy an evening in. When Known Rebel are in the driver’s seat, Hollow excels at its mission.

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