Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Album Review: Borealis - Glittervoice

Album Rating: B
A two hour mix Borealis (Jesse Somfay) recently compiled for Fenomena Studio goes a long way to explain what has changed in his music since last year’s murky, dubstep-inspired Voidness. The mix is expectedly eclectic, but an overwhelming presence of hard, intense dance music lies at odds with Somfay’s hazily downtempo aesthetic. With the mix in mind Glittervoice suddenly adopts an improved narrative, principally because anything is an improvement on the previous “confused.”

Glittervoice comes across as Somfay revisiting old ground from a completely new direction. Once again, his work under the Borealis moniker owes much of its content to hypnotic drum loops and intensely layered, smoky synth swells, but where Voidness drew inspiration from the post-Burial dubstep scene Glittervoice switches it for club-ready techno, trance and even hip-hop. The outcome is a style of music chasing the raver’s enlightenment: where the individual is completely absorbed in the music’s flow to the point even the most heavy tracks will feel serenely perfect.

Results are mixed however, as Somfay has set himself a hell of a task by trying to match the often mutually-exclusive attributes of serenity and intensity. For every “Eye Blossom,” where forceful techno is excellently cushioned by crashing wave-like hums in the background, there’s a “Crush” feeling more like a collection of component ideas than a cohesive track. It’s a very fine line to tread and it comes as no surprise to hear Somfay stumble a select few times along Glittervoice’s 16 long tracklist, though once it’s explicitly clear what mood he’s going for the album becomes infinitely more stable.

Thankfully for Somfay, it is the highs of Glittervoice which strike as the most memorable. “Lover” is possibly his best track to date, with a very personalised and effortless take on trip-hop that struggles to come across as anything but mesmerizingly dreamy. Likewise, “Angelsmoke” wains and swells in a manner bordering on trance-inducing hypnosis. At its best Somfay’s music is something you slip into: a state of mind bridging the gap between reflective and inspired.

Glittervoice is therefore a very, very good album despite its blemishes, but it’s hard to ignore the fact it might have been infinitely more marketable if it was more consistent. At 16 tracks too, it isn’t as if there was any danger of having too short an album after cutting the fat. Working past this, it’s definitely still an album to pick up, even if its tone might require some getting used to.

Glittervoice is out now on Origami Sound, and can be streamed and purchased here.

1. Dreamgum
2. Moll-E
3. Eye Blossom
4. Foldfrost
5. Pewter Sigh
6. Crush
7. Vapour Sword
8. Lover
9. Draft Moon
10. Angel Smoke
11. Cheeked
12. Nightlong Language
13. Snow Resin
14. Stream Snare
15. Curve 2 Curve (Reunite)
16. Flickersalt

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