ISAN - Meet Next Life
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ISAN
Meet Next Life

The duo of ISAN have been creating their batch of nostalgic electronic music now for about the past 6 years. It's been said that they favor old technology over the new. Instead of jumping on board with a fancy new computer and all the latest programs and patches, the two have constructed an elaborate sprawl of analogue keyboards, drum machines and synthesizers. I view them as keepers of the neglected, two fellows that run an orphanage for the old toys when the new toys come along and they're not wanted anymore.

The sense of warmth and nostalgia in their music is partly due to that fact, as well as that the two simply prefer to create soundtracks to sunny days and places where a slightly warm breeze is always blowing in your face. While some of their earlier work (compiled on last years Clockwork Menagerie went back and forth from ambient to slightly aggressive, their last few albums have settled into a warm hammock of soft edges, completely dispelling any notion that electronic music is always cold.

Meet Next Life continues down that well-worn path, and in addition to their well-loved older machines, the duo have introduced some more organic friends in the form of guitar, glockenspiel, and other soft percussion sounds. The result is something that breathes with even a bit more life than older releases, but doesn't lose any of the sort of childlike naivete and charm of previous releases. "One Man Abandon" opens with a brightening wash of sound that gives way to clicky percussion and an 8 note bassline that provides a quiet backbone for simple melodies that glisten with an 8-bit warmth that's hard to deny.

"The Race To Be The First Home" is one track that sticks out only ever-so-slightly in terms of the duos use of new instrumentation. Pinging along with glockenspiel and other chimes, it locks into a fluttering, building track that perfectly matches the butterflies of the cover art. "Iron Eyes" ups the ante a bit with a slightly more aggressive synth bassline as sputtering beats drop all around and remind one of Boards Of Canada (a group that I've compared them to in the past). One of the only major downturns with the album is the length of many of the tracks on the disc. One of the great things about their past releases (especially their debut Beautronics) is that the group constructed their songs much more tightly. Meet Next Life never gets to the point where it really drags, but there are definitely parts where more spritely compositions skills could have made the album a bit stronger. As it stands, Meet Next Life is still an excellent little album full of warm analogue sounds, definitely recommended for fans of Boards Of Canada or Morr Music in general.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2004-01-29 00:00:00