Sunday, 18 November 2018

Album: Proper Micro NV - Dormant Boy

Proper Micro NV - Dormant Boy

Info: Whilst I am a fan of Rory Hall, aka Proper Micro NV's sound and releases to date, I have to admit I was taken by surprise at how accomplished his debut album Dormant Boy is. Described by the Limerick electronic artist as; " most personal record to date. It's a bit of everything really in terms of emotion. Happy, sad, dancey, calming and woozy all at once. It's a little bit idiosyncratic in a sense that it's a bit unusual and a little bit off kilter. I like to think that it digs in a little bit deeper and pushes a few electronic boundaries. I've thrown everything at it, I'm really proud of it and I hope people enjoy and support it." 

'Take Me All Around' is a particularly absorbing start to the album (in fact, possibly moreso than most Irish albums released this year). Having said that! I had to go back to the start of it numerous times and listen to it in full again, I usually don't get so caught up this early in an album. It's such a fine example of ambient electronic music, there's a soft yet bright glow to everything. From Hall's sleep-like state vocal to the energising trance beat it's a pretty gripping affair. Proof if ever it were needed that complexity can lead to a loss of verve, the simple things done well will always engage. 

The warped sounds of 'Always' come next, this is so nicely polished production-wise, here we take a slow-motion plunge into the deep, dark, blue sea with a soft white halo of light surrounding us. Suspended in the sound that Proper Micro NV has bent and twisted, we sink slowly to the incantation of his filtered vocal. Trippy as fuck.

Previous single 'Eyes' is also a delight, the mood is different from what we've heard so far, vocally it's reminiscent of two of my childhood 80's idols, Roland Gift of Fine Young Cannibals (think 'Johnny Come Home') and UB40's Ali Campbell. It really does have single written all over it, and was a perfect choice as such, mellow never sounded so mellow.

The latest single from Dormant Boy, 'Call Me What You Want' indulges our inner soul-pop n' electro desires without apology, and when that bouncy pad beat pops in at 1:17 it goes next level. If part of the artist's persona is to imbue a calmness in the listener, it is nailed to the mast here, to the point of welcome lethargy. After the haute-downtempo electronic drizzle that is 'Fused', comes a more upfront affair in 'That's True', the pop elements here are in extremis in a very good way, it's glitchy retro-electro clicks are quite smile-inducing, a close challenger to the Commodore 64 soundz of following track 'Salt'.

'Underscore' is a firm favourite, I admire the experimentation with thinly wrapped layers of electronic sound here, not for the first time Hall creates a seriously hypnotic drone sound and motion all at once. 'Dot Dot Dot' goes toe to toe with 'Eyes' for burnt out embers of chill, it feels so close that Proper Micro NV's hand may as well be on your shoulder while he delivers his drowsy monologue. Another dose of comatosis ripples through 'February', and in the final chapter of Dormant Boy, Proper Micro NV flips everything on its head with the Daft Punk leaning 'All the Time Proactively Searching', a proper microcosm within a microcosm.

Kitsch is a word I've never used once in a review of music because of its connotations, but there is no word in the English language that is close enough to suitable when it comes to certain aspects of Proper Micro NV's music, the best parts, and this is such a positive. Dormant Boy for me strikes the best balance between indulgence and admiration, regardless of whether you are a horrendous music snob, a happy go merry casual music listener, or that elusive Goldilocks in between, if you can't connect somewhere with this album, you may be dead inside.

Like / Listen & Follow:

News: This Is Not Where I Belong Presents - ‎Percolator, Arthuritis & Unbelievable Lake @ Yamamori Tengu on Nov. 23rd

This Is Not Where I Belong - ‎Percolator Arthuritis Unbelievable Lake Yamamori Tengu

Info: Quarterly literary 'zine This Is Not Where We Belong release their latest issue, #23, at Yamamori Tengu located at the back of The Grand Social on Great Strand Street in Dublin 1, this coming Friday, 23rd of November. As always, the magazine launch will be accompanied by a live show, featuring Percolator, Arthuritis and Unbelievable Lake. Tickets are €10 and available via Eventbrite here, attendees will also receive a free copy of the latest print issue. 

Album: Lambert & Dekker - We Share Phenomena

Lambert & Dekker - We Share Phenomena

Info: Brooklyn Dekker, who is originally from Dublin, writes that "the songs are not about us per sé, rather snapshots of lives lived, wrestling with the known and unknowns of life and its phenomena; those things we all share". The duo fuse beautifully deft neo-classical piano, combined with close  miked vocals which create a certain immediacy.

The pair never set foot in the same studio but wrote 'We Share Phenomena' via iPhone messages. Berlin-based Lambert, a mask-wearing pianist at the fore of the neo-classical movement, and singer Brooklyn Dekker, one-half of acclaimed Anglo-American outfit Rue Royale, describe themselves as a 'ghost' duo who have developed something beyond the sum of their parts.

From the outset, you are struck by the mystical characteristics of Lambert & Dekker's We Share Phenomena, with opener 'The Tug' reflecting in part the same melancholic ambience of an album such as Sufjan Stevens' Carrie & Lowell. 'In an Oblique Way' ratchets that sense up a few notches almost instantly, a classical piano dirge that is like a bellow of dark, cosmic beauty, it's not often it happens, but I did think that this track could so easily work as purely instrumental as well as with vocals, I could actually listen to that piano progression endlessly.

Third track 'Another One' sees the duo switch tempo slightly with a grooving indie-pop overlay, but again delicacy is central, the simple electronic beat trundling whimsically in the background and creating a very care-free atmosphere. Following the gorgeousness of the orchestral 'Manifold' comes 'Tone', it's quite a unique number, tropical sounds accompany a rn'b-style vocal courtesy of Dekker, it's an unassumingly happy moment on the album, a reflection on the fleeting nature of life and acceptance of what has has happened in the past, which will never be ideal no matter what choices we made.

Though it would certainly be an odd fit on that album, I can't shake OK Computer vibes pinging out of 'Bluffing', as the song advances it grows in stature, the vocal carries a sense of hope most eloquently. 'Pliable' is absolutely one of my favourite tracks on the entire album, it unfolds with the most beautiful bloom, the strings are achingly delicate and it has the softest of landings as it draws to an end. 'With Your Own Kind of Swagger' could easily be the soundtrack to a silent animated short, and this is a sense that returns time and again on We Share Phenomena, each song is compatible as a backdrop to whatever story we want it to be. 

'Uncivil' is a wonderful end to the album, Keith Jarrett is in the house, by now we are obviously familiar with the course Lambert & Dekker have charted, as the curtain drops to the stage floor, you feel a calmness, you've been provided with more than adequate headspace to drift off inside the music which is wrought in an other-worldly hue. As an entire piece, Lambert and Dekker don't demand that we follow their path, they willingly give free reign for us to explore and feel whatever way we want to feel on We Share Phenomena, making each listen a separate and mystical journey. 

Lambert & Dekker perform live at The Bello Bar, Dublin, this Wednesday, 21st of November. Tickets are available via Eventbrite here.