Dissolved‘s last venture was a shared excursion with Nonima; Paul Daniels’ latest is a solo outing, a little less industrial in nature but still tailored for dance floors. A few tracks are obvious highlights, but the album as a whole is consistently engaging.
By virtue of its unusual juxtapositions, the 10-minute “Forgotten Processes” leaps from the album and runs around the room with its spangles and decals falling off. The track begins with recessed organ and a female spoken word monologue about working in a darkroom. It’s only been a few years since the darkroom career dissolved, a victim of digital processing, but already the thought of developing film in the dark produces a sense of nostalgia. Lisa Stampfli’s vocals recall Sina Hübner of Psychobitch: confident yet wistful, with a touch of defiance. As she speaks of her own undeveloped life and stops wearing her mask, one can sense a growing temporal displacement. Twirling patterns of drums and synth surround her voice like waterspouts. Originality is key; this is likely the first song to include the lyric, “I’m replacing water with silver bromide.”
Of the other dance tracks, “Stickleback Red” is the most effective, due to a 90-second outro that pumps up the drums while eliminating all extraneous sounds. This percussive jam would be well-served by a remix; perhaps it’s time to give Nomina a call again! As for the track title, it may refer to either a fish or an Australian wine, but since it’s an instrumental, few will ask. “Your Age in Shark Years” adds party banter, IDM textures and a layer of sampled 80s-style vox; “Selmantrasm” is the album’s speed demon at 146 b.p.m..
The finale “On Board the Deuterium Arc” is a risk that pays off, a fifteen-minute track that serves as a musical reflection of the ultraviolet spectrum, the practice of spectroscopy and the danger of looking too closely into the brilliance of discharged light. (As a certain New Jersey artist once wrote, “Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun; but Mama, that’s where the fun is!”) This rotating instrumental never settles on a single pattern for too long, in tune with the natural variances in light gradation. As time passes, it contacts and folds over itself until one is no longer sure where it begins or ends, like a ball of yarn whose ends have been lost. The spell is only broken once, in the middle of the piece, with the spoken words, “Bass. Drums. The D.J.” – rather unnecessary since one would normally be aware of these three things in a club. Such minor indulgences can be forgiven in the service of the beat. (Richard Allen)