During a recent resurgence of melody on dance floors, a whole generation of artists, DJs and producers have excavated dusty bargain bins the world over in establishing an alternative sound to the draconian Techno and bland House that saturates the scene. Taking their inspiration from 90’s Trance, IDM, Ambient and Electro, artists like Ex-Terrestrial have foregone trends in an amalgamation of influences that defies categorisation and marks some of the more innovative records being released today.
Ex-Terrestrial is hardly the enigma his alias might suggest and has been spearheading this latest evolution in electronic club through his Naff label. Between running the label and releasing his own music on the likes of Lone’s Magicwire imprint, the artist is a scene onto himself, moving with the tide of the trend, but also laying the groundwork for something beyond a nostalgic revisionist music. “Gamma Infolded” is the latest in a string of records that has seen him engage with an older aesthetic in looking for something unique for contemporary dance floors.
The LP arrives via Naff records and breaks from the sound of previous records on the label, which through “Perishing Thirst” and “Priori” has favoured a 90’s leaning Trance and Techno aesthetic. On “Gamma Infolded,” Ex-Terrestrial ventures into the more experimental realm of IDM, with an album that jumps between serene melodic compositions and distorting noise collages. As is the case, this kind of nostalgic flair can often succumb to irony and while a title like “Bored of Canada” might suggest the artist has a sense of humour about his own work, there seems to be more of a serious conceptual thread tying this record together.
Ex-Terrestrial avoids the kind of Trance-based Techno that warmed audiences to his sound on singles like “Euphorbia” for a record that channels the late-nineties sound of Warp records. Glitchy rhythms and abstract atmospheres dominate the record with obscured samples and ebullient melodies floating through the individual pieces in search of a narrative through the album.
Individually, tracks like “Gguunngg” and “Scatterbrainn” might leave the listener somewhat disorientated, but as they appear through he sequence of the record, these pieces find a form over function. It might leave fans somewhat disillusioned with the record, but perseverance is key, as the record resolves in the more tepid realm of “Travel Safe” and “Trains.” For those that might have come to know the artist through his various 12″ records, there is something familiar contained on those last two tracks, and yet they only seem to make sense in the abstract noise contained on the triptych that makes up the C-side of the LP.
“Gamma Infolded” might distance itself from Ex-Terrestrial’s previous works, but it continues that spirit of exploration, informed by the past in search of a future we seemed to have lost along the way. It is perfectly suited for the album format and re-enforces the artist’s position in the new vanguard of electronic music artist.