Naming your album Erik isn’t going to make many people listen to it, until they discover it is actually a tribute to one of the greatest composers of all time, Erik Satie. Satie’s Gymnopédies influenced and shaped ambient more than any other piece of music, and in this album, Bionulor utilizes his unique 100% sound recycling method (as he describes it) to pay tribute to the great composer and his famous composition. What Bionulor does is take a sound (in this case Gymnopedies) and process it to the point that it becomes something altogether different (or somewhat different on a superficial level, while retaining the essence of the original composition), without adding any instruments or other sounds.
His work reminded me at times of another de-composer of music, Fennesz, especially his work in Endless Summer. The process used by Bionulor may not allow for much variety, but sometimes an artist’s limitations (especially when they’re self-imposed) provide the opportunity to explore possibilities that might have otherwise been ignored, while also avoiding the excessive usage of unnecessary sounds. The album is surprisingly melodic, with the melodies jumping out of static and rough, processed sounds that bring to mind objects being broken, or maybe eggs with cute little chicks coming out of them. Bionulor works very much in the same way as a musician who uses exclusively self-made instruments would work (even if all he uses is computer software) and the end result is unusual, with a sizable lack of familiar sounds. There are times when the sound sequences used become repetitive but in most cases the artist finds ways to redeem himself by leading us into either more melodic or abstract pieces. Erik does require patience from its listener, but is also capable of surprising us with the inspired techniques used.
In Erik the artist lets nothing go to waste turning Satie’s peaceful and dreamy melodies upside down and inside out. The end result falls into the more experimental side of what was once called IDM or ambient electronica. Often when listening to electronic music I seek the soul of the machine, but this is a case of the machine discovering the soul, smashing it into a million pieces, molding it anew, and leaving us with something that is still very abstract and dreamlike, even if the dreams of 2012 are very different than those of 1888. (John Kontos)