Let’s start with the video. “Strike Silver, Love Green” has been circulating since July, creating anticipation for Tallesen‘s debut album. The track title and visuals invite listeners to imagine Stills Lit Through as a colorful, synaesthetic experience. The slow-moving abstractions operate as paint brushes dipped in already murky water. After seeing the connection, one can sense it on other tracks. Opener “Blue Still” offers muted illumination, like a slide held up to the sun. The bass-heavy “Set Red, Seize Grey” sets two timbres in motion, like two colors. Closer “Teal Spot Focus” pushes percussion to the fore – perhaps more tan than teal, depending on the ear.
The closest musical comparison is New York neighbor Sculpture, whose Membrane Pop was released on the same label (Software Recording Co.) earlier this year. Each artist sets aside the normal electronic template, choosing instead to concentrate on texture and contrast. The compositions found on Stills Lit Through lend themselves better to contemplation than clubs. Some may hear touches of plunderphonics or hip-hop, but the influences are also visual. It’s hard to say if anything here would work as a radio single (major executives would be flummoxed), but “Emmel” comes close, plunging early into the percussion and providing a semi-accessible series of sounds. However, each piece could work as a video single, as the mixture of timbres is so unique. So much attention has been paid to Aphex Twin in recent months that the new innovators have received less attention; Tallesen is experimenting in the manner that James used to experiment.
The bonus tracks are worth a special mention. Four are included in the digital download, and hold their own with the main body of work. “Night Bloom” is especially noteworthy, its bright flourishes offset by deep bass. A sound like a bicycle bell is apparent in the early moments, a post-industrial crunch later. It’s the best song of the series, a tumbling piece that continues to turn, like stills lit through, examined under changing skies. (Richard Allen)