It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed a color-based release, the last being Machinefabriek’s Colour Tones. The new release from Autistici & Justin Varis is just that: an investigation of shades and tones, garnished with a diverse remix disc. The topical choice is fitting for Eilean Records, whose every disc is given its own color and number, this one being white/gray, 90.
Three colors ~ blue, amber and yellow ~ get their own tracks, while the rest offer unusual combinations (violet green and red gray orange, the latter in three different orders). Those familiar with synaesthesia are aware that color associations vary from person to person; there’s no consistency to the colors conjured by sound. This being said, “Light Blue” might easily be interpreted as a winter sky, its light chimes reminiscent of snow, while “Blue (Heart of a Diver)” sounds a bit more like sleet (despite its intimations of oceans). Marcus Fischer’s reinterpretation of the former sounds darker and more hollow, while Christopher Hipgrave’s remix of the latter sounds lighter and more stratospheric. It’s amazing what the addition or subtraction of a single tone can do.
“Yellow” doesn’t sound quite yellow, but neither did Coldplay’s song of the same name. To me the track sounds brown; but when Wil Bolton smooths it out, it sounds like a fallen leaf with yellow veins. The 17-minute “Amber (Sleep Test for Eric)” arrives on the heels of Max Richter’s magnum opus, and in its original version it inspires somnolence. But when Letters! On Sounds gets its hands on the masters, the track is shortened by half and turned into a dot tape dot style electronic workout. We’d love to hear more from this artist, whose timbres may not be typical for Eilean, but are eminently welcome. Soft electronics pop up again on “Violet Green”, but flipping the script, Pillowdiver turns the track into a soft drone piece. The tri-colored works are less effective, only because there are so many of them. Overall, Nine is an effective set, a seamless blend of the talents of these artists. (Richard Allen)