a closer listen

Alex Augier ~ Germination

Our eyes were first drawn to the Roly Porter remix, but Alex Augier‘s Germination succeeds on its own merits.  The high-profile name does its job, and the association is apt, as this music should appeal to fans of Third Law.  Like Porter, Augier allows his pieces time to develop, roaming the fields of drone before dropping his devastating beats.

The title track follows an unusual arc, beginning with thick textures, exploding in the middle and backing into thin electronic sheets.  There’s too little in the way of beats for this to work in a club setting, but this is not the intention; instead, the artist desires to create contrast through competing worlds.  Porter thins the sound field even more, taking a rolling pin to the production, calling more attention to the bass than the beats.  Not until 1:11 is left in the track does a clear drum hit emerge, but even then the impact is subtle.  By bracketing the EP with these very different takes, Augier nearly makes us forget that they stem from the same source.

The formula is inverted on the second track.  “The Selfish Gene” reveals its IDM base early, its active percussion disguising the fact that it clocks in at under 100 b.p.m.  The deliberate pace allows for wide dynamic shifts, including drum-free rushes and whooshes, along with a clever rattle at the four minute mark that highlights the thickness of the bass.  Then there’s a long period of waiting; on the first play, one is unclear whether the tension is building or dissipating.  When less than 30 seconds remain, one is convinced that the track is over; one final unaccompanied rattle seems to be the end of it.  Then in rope-a-dope style, the artist pounces.

“A Chance To Proliferate is A Chance to Mutate” boasts a lurking, melodic bass and a sense of forward propulsion.  The beats are consistent until the final breakdown, which includes plucked strings and a final swath of bass.  The last impression is akin to a dying watch.  Then Porter’s piece turns the entire EP into a macrocosm of the opening track, and we’re ready to wind it up again.  (Richard Allen)

Available here