13 September 2019 (released)
19 September 2019
Finding a spiritual centre in this tech-driven cosmopolitan landscape can be a challenge. One can take a reprieve from it with brief retreats and rituals designed to block out the ever-encroaching cyberworld out there but at some point, it behooves oneself to find a peace within that rabidly kinetic space. Over the last 30 years, a branch of electronica has grown out of a reaction to this rapidly progressing society we're all feeding. A subgenre that incorporates the energy created by this developing techno-future and tries to find the soul within it. UK house pioneers Underworld were among the first to take electronic music that beat with the pulse of the city and give it a sense of spirituality. Finding serene moments amidst the chaos of modern life. Fast forward to today and projects like Four Tet and Gold Panda have made a career out of this warm yet perpetually driving music. Where ambient and techno collide.
Vestiges is the first full-length release from Tokyo-based project Healing Spells. The album incorporates chopped and warped vocal samples, found sounds and nebulous synths all set over relentless city-in-motion beats. The artist clearly draws a great deal of inspiration from the city he calls home but also from a recent trip to India which refocussed his attention and filled him with ideas of Eastern ambiance.
Rounded sounds and pitched repeated vocal samples open this spacious, wondrous album. An airy synth swells in to fill the listener with a sense of awe. The vocals increase in frequency like a rapid-fire conversation as we take a futuristic high-speed rail through the heart of the city. The beat morphs from pumping pulsation to snappy syncopation as an electronic monk sings a sermon. The title track slows us down to the sounds of a calming pan flute as butterflies flutter about in the scene.
'Les Cimes' provides some of the more dramatic moments on the album with accentuated ecstatic breaths among flowing eavestroughs after a summer rain. 'Early Morning Rituals' acts as a palette cleanser as he uses a pastiche of sounds from a city rising for the day to create a soundscape that gives you the vivid sensation of the first rays of a day's sunshine on your face. Children cavorting, streetcars clanking, drains filling and flowing, an errant car horn among the hum of the city. A love letter to the beautiful chaos of morning in the city. On the penultimate 'Red Island', the producer uses his vocal sampling to dizzying effect creating a swirling aural cocoon. The effect blended with a serene female vocal and pumping beat makes for an album high.
Vestiges is an ode to our modern world taking in its many miraculous marvels and engulfing the listener in a vibrant techno-scape. Equal parts 8-bit video game and kung fu movie soundtrack, he conjures welcoming textures that make for a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. The tradition started by Underworld's 'Dark And Long (Dark Train)' is being faithfully continued.