I always find it difficult to write about electronic music like this, as it seems so dependent upon space. Tollcrane’s latest LP has a cavernous, huge sound to it, that seems more suited to a warehouse than bursting though headphones. There is the sense that this is very much dance music, made for moving bodies, interacting in a space.
It’s unsurprising, therefore, that the album plays like an extended DJ set. Take the 10-minute opener, Revelations, for instance that starts with a lovely piano echo. From this solid foundation, Talha Asim Wynne builds and strips, adding and removing elements as the song progresses. Structurally the songs become somewhat amorphous and vague – they move here and there with no real destination in place. This can be liberating – there is no expectation (thankfully) of the ‘drop’ that plagues EDM, or the constant need to build to a climax.
There is the sense that this is very much dance music, made for moving bodies, interacting in a space.
Having said that, the strongest track on the album is Graveyard Shift, which is also the perhaps the most structurally conventional. Wynne does well within these confines – Shift has a dark 80’s neon feel to it, similar to Kavinsky’s massive hit Nightfall – and plays with our expectations.
Personality in this kind of dance music is always a difficult and subjective element to criticise. I felt the same way with artists such as Floating Points or Leon Vynehall – although they are evidently technically astute artists, the music didn’t speak to me in any real way. Through headphones that is. But put on Nuits Sonores on some huge speakers on a dance floor and that’s it (greeeeaaaatt). Trips Alone, and in fact much of Wynne’s output, feels the same way: deeply impersonal and technical until you hear it properly.
Regardless, this impersonality sometimes gets the better of the album. It can occasionally feel incredibly distant. Even vocals (one of the few analog sounds on the album), when they do appear on Red Moon, are way down in the mix, and buried with reverb. It creates a nice atmosphere, but it can feel very lonely (hence the title I suppose).
I hope that Wynne gets a chance to showcase the album in the way it seems to have been made: in a Karachi basement in the middle of the night. Invite me too plz.