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Idmonster - Be More Like Water

  by Adrian Janes

published: 19 / 11 / 2013

Idmonster - Be More Like Water
Label: Knitted Cat Records
Format: CD


Evocative but occasionally characterless latest album from Idmonster, the moniker for Brighton-based multi-instrumentalist and composer Pendle Poucher

Idmonster is the guise under which multi-instrumentalist Pendle Poucher of the band Butterfly Child operates solo. The tracks he creates are moods as much as they are melodies. When they work, one part flows into the next, but in some cases (such as ‘Sleeps with the Fishes’) they drift too far into the realm of abstract sound to be regarded as fully successful pieces of music. Poucher’s other activities in soundtracks and installations no doubt explain this trait; in such contexts these pieces would probably work better. ‘East Arm’ (its title, and that of the later ‘West Arm’, coming from the names for the walls of a sea-harbour) is a brief introductory piece based around a rising guitar and a keyboard effect that mimics breathing, evoking a swimmer in the midst of a vast ocean. Like a wave, the gathering sound rushes towards and almost overwhelms the listener, before subsiding into silence. ‘I Was Drifting Plankton’ opens with a thrumming guitar foundation and rainfall effect. Subtle bass and synth, drizzled with well-timed, spare piano and further keyboard touches, almost imperceptibly build its understated intensity. Then ‘Exe’, with its recurrent tide-like background, continues the sense of the album as a voyage, poignant keyboards seeming to soar into the sky above the sea. The floating feel is broken by the misleadingly-titled ‘Flat Calm’, whose motorik rhythm, powerful distorted guitar and scattering of random sounds in fact makes for the nearest thing to rock on the album. But it is restored by the beautiful ‘Conform or Be Swept Away’. A combination of finely-judged piano, the notes hanging in the air, and Sophia Bartlette’s distant violin, make for a piece both plaintive and meditative. ‘Fool Moon’ begins a sequence (along with ‘Sleeps with the Fishes’ and ‘Perigee’) where the various elements - which at different points include thudding percussion, oscillating synth, tormented guitar and keyboard drone - don’t cohere enough in my view to work. Much more satisfying are the urgently pulsing keyboards of ‘West Arm’. Their repetitive yet subtly shifting lines, set against a constant percussive click, together create what Steve Reich might write for the dance-floor. Final track ‘Start Something New’ is the album’s solitary song. It has a tenderly treated vocal and keyboards, like Scritti Politti spliced with Animal Collective, the words offering gentle encouragement: “I know it’s not so easy to do/But it’s time to start something new.” The dreamlike mood is disrupted by ‘Endtroducing’-style drum breaks, as if to stress the need to awake and take positive action. Whether this song is a “note to self” or a message to someone else, its complete contrast to what has gone before suggests that Poucher is ready and able to venture into uncharted waters. This is a largely pleasing album that can stir and reflect various moods, even if at times the atmospheres evoked become rather formless. The other quibble is that some pieces (e.g. ‘Conform or Be Swept Away’) could bear being longer to sustain both their and the listener’s oceanic feeling.

Track Listing:-
1 East Arm
2 I Was Drifting Plankton
3 Exe
4 Flat Calm
5 Conform or Be Swept Away
6 Fool Moon
7 Sleeps With the Fishes
8 Perigee
9 West Arm
10 Start Something New

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