Radian announces itself with a squelch and a blur. It’s been seven years, and where has the time gone? Soon those big beats (and we do mean BIG) hit their stride, the beeps bounce like water in a Jurassic Park puddle, and it seems like 2009 all over again, only better.
Radian’s blend of organic and electronic, composed and improvised, lends the trio a distinctive sound. In many cases what seems to be live is actually manipulated, the architecture hidden by studio splicing. These and other dichotomies are suggested by the title On Dark Silent Off, which implies opposites. But the set does contain one unifying characteristic: it grooves.
While the bass and electronics each make powerful contributions, the snares define the tone. Mixed up front and loud, they dominate the sonic field, threatening to obscure even other percussive elements ~ a sampled marble, a cable entering a socket. The rubbed chalk sound of “Recreate Loved Objects” is especially appealing. While each track contains non-percussive portions, the energy picks up each time the beats appear. Single “Scary Objects” begs for club action, or at least a chase scene.
If the set’s most avant-garde piece is “Codes and Sounds” (the shortest track, yet the furthest thing from a single), then the most immediate is “Rusty Machines, Dusty Carpets” (the snazziest track, yet much too long for radio play). Here the trio demonstrates the breadth of its abilities with crashing drums, booming bass and a sense of abandon. The sound is free-form, but the construction is not. However, the track, and by extension the album, does have a downside: a momentum-killing five-minute empty spot seven minutes into the track. We’d have ended the album here, as the coda is unnecessary. But this is a minor quibble, as five minutes of silence is far better than seven years. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 11 November