a closer listen

Aner Andros ~ Artefacts and Sonic Brushstrokes

The name of the EP is perfect, as it describes the sound with the best possible metaphor.  The tag softronica is not, as it implies something sedate and unobtrusive.  Artefacts and Sonic Brushstrokes may be quiet, but it’s not plain.

By one count, this is the fourth release for Aner Andros; by another, it marks the beginning of his third musical decade.  His prior incarnation as CGA more than doubles his discography.  The difference between his old and new incarnations is a concentration on internal variety, as first evidenced on 2015’s Remap Ethos Stream.  The abstractions remain, but the short tracks tumble from timbre to timbre.  One is reminded of the fable of the blind men and the elephant.  One hears a segment of “03” and calls it ambient; another touches the tail of “02c” and pronounces it drone; still another strokes the center of “01b” and declares it pre-industrial.  Even at 21:35, the EP is difficult to comprehend.  Asian voices give way to bells; relaxation is replaced by abrasion.  Andros calls these “style experiments”, and it’s easy to see why; even Trash Riot‘s cover art is subject to inversion, appearing in flipped versions.  In one, the diver is rising as if drawn by an invisible beam; in another, she descends from an unknown altitude.

“99” is separated from the other tracks by a brief period of silence, extending an invitation to reflect.  The beats are more overt, while dueling tempos provide multiple anchors.  There’s even a little bit of rain, a parallel to the synthesized waves of the first, second and fifth tracks.  If the implied explosion never occurs, it’s only to defy expectation.  The beats are removed from the dance floor like the diver is removed from the water: always rising/falling, content never to land.  If “01b” is Andros’ nod to linear development, “99” is its antithesis: a canvas painted over so often that the underlying layers can still be gleaned.  The EP ends with open brackets, as weightless as it began.  (Richard Allen)

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