Neotropic - White Rabbits
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Neotropic
White Rabbits

Riz Maslen made her informal debut on the electronic music scene almost 10 years ago with her vocal contribution to The Future Sound Of London's Accelerator. Over the course of the following decade, she would go on to produce not only music (mainly on Ninja Tune's Ntone sub-label), but also a batch of multimedia projects. White Rabbits is her debut release for the Mush Records label, and it finds her taking steps toward an even more gentle output, mixing found-sound samples with longer musical pieces and fleshing out her music with even more organic instrumentation.

After an opening track of nothing more than the sounds of walking in the sand, the disc begins in earnest with the absolutely stunning "New Cross." Mixing sparse guitar and piano melodies that weave around one another over fairly simple beats, the track is an exercise in stripping things down but still managing to stay completely engaging. Working in similar ways is the following track of "Inch Inch," as sputtering beats help to keep the pace as piano progressions, guitars, and fluttering chimes roll the listener through a pastoral countryside.

"Magpies" stretches out to almost nine minutes and sounds more similar to older work from Maslen as cut-up vocals and almost tribal beats rattle around before the whole track dissolves into ambience and continues on through the next song. Considering the album has numerous tracks under 3 minutes long and still runs almost 70 minutes, the release sometimes has a hard time sustaining itself. One of the worst offenders is the slow-rolling "Feeling Remote," a track that builds laboriously before skronking some harmonica for the latter half. Although I'm sure it could be done, I've simply never heard a harmonica used well in an electronic track, and like many others before it this one suffers some of the same "hick-hop" tendencies (even when coupled with strings and digital squelches).

"Joe Luke" suffers some of the same fates, rambling on with a nice bassline and repetitive beat while different melodies (from flutes, guitars) come and go without much feel for build or dynamics. In the end, the album is actually best when Maslen seems to limit herself a bit more in terms of instrumentation. The aforementioned first couple tracks on the album are easily some of the best things that she's ever done, but the album seems to get a bit mired in the process as it goes along.

rating: 6.2510
Aaron Coleman 2004-09-23 00:00:00