YAGYA - RIGNING (SENDING ORBS)
I have talked recently in the past about my growing disdain for the gamut of dub techno records that are being churned out and devoured without any critical faculties being applied at the moment. The likes of Intrusion, Echochord, Quantec et al carry the long-dead torch of what Ernestus and Von Oswald had created and then extinguished with the Basic Channe legacy carried on with Scion. Where innovators once dared to tread, now producers seem so enraptured by the sounds left behind that they’re not looking forward, content to purely bask and tread water in the soulless glow of dub techno in 2009.
Aðalsteinn Guðmundsson has been a member of the glacial (any more cold adjectives and you’ve permission to shoot me) Thule Musik collective for some time, and his classic “The Rhythm of Snow” on the sadly defunct Force Inc label in 2002 gave a real indication of his talent. Sadly “Will I Dream During the Process” on Sending Orbs in 2006 seemed at most like he was treading water, as we waited for what seemed like an eternity to hear what was going to seep out of Rekyavik next. With the country virtually bankrupt, one wonders what the next wave of electronic music from there will be like, because “Rigning” is a soaring glider of a record, golden sounds cascading everywhere. There are minute facets of hints of dub techno, but unlike the other producers I’ve mentioned, Guðmundsson has a critical edge for composition that makes his songs stand out. Yes, they’re melancholic, and follow some of the same traits that other dub techno records have, but ultimately he doesn’t allow production to swamp the structure of his sounds.
The album contains definitive passages, and whilst it stretches out over 60 minutes, there’s a clean and distinct element to each of the 10 songs, which are simply titled 1-10. It’s pretty dancefloor-orientated too, in particular “ﬂrjú” and “Niu” which contain a sense of pristine urgency that seems out of place with the narcotic vibe that permeates much dub techno. The final track “tiú” completes the album with a wistful tone.
Whilst it would be foolhardy in light of my previous comments to say that “Rigning” drives the genre forward into unexplored territory, the selection of artfully coloured sounds does remind us that Aðalsteinn Guðmundsson is a rare talent, and that hopefully we might see a bit more of him in the near future. Although with Iceland facing an uncertain past, things might take a darker turn.