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Tonikom, "The Sniper's Veil"

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cover imageOn her second album on the Hymen label, Tonikom’s Rachel Maloney continues to refine her blend of danceable electronic abstraction with elements of ambient and even slightly poppy approaches that can work just as well for the dance floor as for close attentive listening.

 

Hymen Records

tonikom - the Sniper's Veil

The track that opens the album, the sprawling "Temporarius Delerium" is some 11 plus minutes of slow development: a dramatic opening of processed loops, deep bass pulses and angelic layered voices starkly contrast the second half of sharp breakbeats and darker synth pulses that come later, mixing the beautiful with the raw.  The beat leans into that distorted overdriven sound that is consistent with other Hymen/Ant-Zen artists, but never goes too far, instead tastefully mixing the dissonant textures with more conventional rhythms.  

The female choir sounds from this long opening reappear on "Of Those Great Walls," where they are looped in a spacious mix with warm synths and clicking rhythms.  "Fluorescence" has a similar vast mix, though utilizing more raw mechanical beats with the slow and warm synth tracks.  Both "Peripheral Movement" and "Watching From Here" lean more into the techno world, with the former opening with an 808 rhythm right out of "Planet Rock" and backwards keyboard tones while the latter focuses on reverb drenched piano pieces.  Both have a steady and pounding beat to them, yet there is a wide variety of sounds between the rhythms that are just as compelling.

A few of the tracks, at least to these ears, drift into instrumental techno pop with the occasional industrial edge to keep things interesting.  "In The Far" opens with twinkling ringtone like melodies before segueing into a solid 4/4 kick rhythm and slower electro bass sequences.  The structure of the track is reminiscent of some very well done techno pop tracks that are as catchy as they are technically impressive.  The lush synths and mechanical polyrhythms of "The Source (Album Edit)" and "Breaking Down", when mixed with the concrete rhythms and dialog samples, come across as being not far removed from 1990s industrial with a hint of pop sensibilities.  Since the Tonikom Myspace lists Front Line Assembly as an influence, I’m going to assume that it is no accident that I was reminded of some of that band’s  late '90s output.

Conceptually the disc closes somewhat like it started:  "Look But Never Touch" is the only beat-less track here, mixing dark synths with an almost music box type melody, contrasting the natural and beautiful again with the synthetic and dark.  While it could definitely be an album to shake your ass to, it thankfully lacks the dull repetition and simplicity of so many techno records, yet it never lurches into the "lets see how random we can make our beats" territory of many so-called IDM bands.  It straddles that narrow line, and it does so quite well.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 07 June 2009 09:44  


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