Reliq is Serph; or is Serph Reliq? The dual-monikered artist has been steadily amassing a healthy discography, and this generous new set (14 tracks, 68 minutes, plus a bonus disc when ordering from Noble) offers a healthy amount of hard beats backed with chiming treble and deep bass. Whenever the strings emerge (as they do early on “wanderer”), the classicism is reminiscent of another Noble perennial, Kashiwa Daisuke. But Reliq is his own man, or more properly, men. His work as Serph is painted by pixies and unicorns, but his work as Reliq possesses a slightly less fanciful edge, represented by geometric shapes in his 2011 video “tea”.
Reliq describes Metatropics as “a new type of tropical music in the midst of a global climate change”. In other words, someday we’ll all live in the tropics. A blend of the futuristic and the traditional (for example, church bells on “macafu” and “freelunch”), the album offers a sonic vision of a world that has not yet arrived. With this in mind, it may be accurate to close the book on Serph/Reliq comparisons by concluding that the former is fantasy and the latter is sci-fi. The rapid-fire beats of Metatropics venture deeper into IDM than the artist has ventured before, far enough to reference the work of Aphex Twin, whose oeuvre is decidedly forward-thinking.
Because the album is long and fast, it’s exhaustive to take in at first. The listener yearns for a rest along the way, but finds only brief respite in interludes. Reliq has a lot to say, he wants to say it fast, and he wants to say it now. (“Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”) The headlong pace is fast enough to cover a few stumbles along the way, including the late-album “peace”, which sounds like a skipping disc but fortunately is buried deep in the album. Much better are grooving tracks such as lead single “willo” and the aforementioned “freelunch”, packed with vast melodies and copious tempo changes. With so many tracks to choose from, most fans will easily find a few favorites. Whether as Serph or Reliq, this artist has become a reliable name, every release an electronic event. (Richard Allen)