This review should be proof that I never hold a grudge against a label. After being introduced to the Tomlab label with the amazing Thought For Food release by the Books last year, I had the misfortune of hearing the unintentionally (at least, I think it was Melody, Melody, Melody, and More Melody by The Phenomenological Boys earlier this year. I knew it had to be a fluke, and I was correct in my judgement. First released on the Plop label last year, Ripple is an album of fluttering electronics from a duo of artists who seem to draw inspiration from water.
Upon hearing the first couple tracks on the disc, it's easy to tell that the album title is no misnomer. Like a more concise and slightly less experimental alter-ego of Hoshi No Koe by Nobukazu Takemura, the release revolves around the many different ways that a sound can be broken down and how many pieces it can be split into. After opening with the very short "Soar," the album clicks into "Twang," a deconstruction of stringed instruments. Single tone pieces of acoustic guitars clip and shake while what sounds like the low pluck of an upright bass provides a little backing low end. "Whirr" again deals with the discarded fragments, sometimes sounding like bits of prepared piano slowly quivering over a bed of friendly digital insect sounds.
"Perch" again moves back into territory that sounds like remnants culled from delicate acoustic guitar sessions while warm pulse drones and what sounds like even a touch of accordian fan out behind it. Like Takemura, the occasional downfall of the release is that there is sometimes too much of what is originally a good thing. "Coda" clearly enjoys the slow breaking down of individual notes on a guitar, but once each note has been reversed, cut-up, and spit out in several directions, the sparse feel of the track simply lingers on for far too long.
While the album isn't always amazing, it's one of those releases that is interesting many times if only for the sheer experimentation of sound. Although the songs are mainly crafted out of absolutely minute pieces and tiny bits of digital sound, the album (again, hence the title) has a very fluid feel. It's definitely on the clicky and glitchy side of things, but the small pieces flow so closely together that they become a stream of particles rather than gritty individual pieces. Because of that, your ears will pick up on and pick apart different pieces with each listen. The short album also uses some of the same tricks several times, which can grow a bit repetitive (despite the microsound production), but it's an interesting diversion and a nice little eardrum tickle.