Friday, August 10, 2012

Portals - Eras


Tranzmundane Music / Bandcamp.

SCQ Rating: 74%

Without having lived it, I can still imagine a time when monochromatic album covers and illegible band names suggested the vast possibilities of independent music’s leftfield. Here in the Bandcamp era, however, they make pretty lousy bedfellows. It would be a dangerous first impression for a young artist to welcome even had Nathaniel Eras’ chosen sound not converged with the experimental electronic fringe that so many reclusive laptop artists now throw their names at. But for those of you who agree with the above sentiments and are, by deduction, modern cynics, take heed: Eras gives a jolt of brainy goodness to a scene ripe with talent but unerringly cloned over.

Beneath the industrial stomps that shellshock “Coma” and the saturated hiss spilling out of “Taxa” waits a convincing melodic sensibility, capable of reorganizing the initial clamoring into something deviously constructed but unique in mood. “Deus” reveals this strength early on Portals, infiltrating a distant choral with an assortment of toybox chimes and minimal touches of bass. “Abeo” and “Ares” continue uncovering Eras’ keen but quiet ear with subtle beat workouts that tonally call to mind Aphex Twin’s Drukqs. These simmering tracks belie the popular impulse to tack some sort of euphoric explosion at the close. It’s Eras’ restlessness, felt in nearly inaudible twists and turns, which prevents the record from getting sleepy.

Granted I’ve been neglecting to mention a half of Portals more menacing than meditative. “Eros” makes an early impression, strutting out in digitized arpeggios, swelling R & B basslines and a thick trip-hop beat. “Oath”, on the other hand, chants and squeals its way through an imaginary horror soundtrack that’s rather unnerving. Despite some uneasy listening, the latter example probably benefits Portals even if it isn’t exactly my cup of tea, providing traction and variety to counter the agitated beauty of the calmer highlights. In any case, Eras reaffirms why people should wander Bandcamp’s daunting universe. Because sometimes, you find life.

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