The titles of compositions tend to give very valuable clues for understanding what an album is about, and trying to get to the bottom of its intentions, or its message, if it has one. With Ital Tek’s second album it is recommendable to read before listening: there are so many references to colours (beginning with the title itself), to time (the same), and to space, that you could seriously consider the possibility that “Midnight Colour” is an aesthetic meditation on the changes of colour over the course of the day, the seasons, or an entire lifetime: “Neon Arc”, “Black and White” and “Moment in Blue” with their impressionistic allusions, are mixed in on the tracklist with other pieces that have astronomical or celestial connotations, like “Talis”, “Moonbow” ,“Heliopause” and perhaps the definitive clue, “Infinite.”. For Ital Tek –or Alan Myson, the most hard-working bedroom producer in Brighton of late– music should have ethereal, synaesthetic qualities, it should be grand without arrogance, and as the album flows, one feels that although its ambition is boundless and difficult, it has achieved something tangible, a rough draught of its idea. “Midnight Colour” enters as much through the skin as through the ears; that is to say, the sound can be metabolised as if it were colour (that is, light) and at times it promises to stop time for an imperceptible second. Its value, which is great, is in these small nuances.
And although the backbone of the rhythm falls on the already-habitual combination of incisive break and bass about to jump up and bite, it would be a mistake to identify Ital Tek with the dubstep scene, not even with the disintegration of the dubstep sound itself. He is, in essence, an heir of melodic, human IDM, close in a manner to the most serious –that is to say without the irony or jokes– of the Luke Vibert who produced under the alias Wagon Christ. When Wagon Christ worked as a project, dubstep didn’t exist, logically, but there was a way of raising sound landscapes and gardens of pale simplicity based on elements of trip hop, the lines of thick analogue synthesiser, and an idea of sound that “coloured” the atmosphere, which is also the function of music for films, or that aimed at chilling out. The focus is not the same, but it is equivalent for “Midnight Colour”, which re-launches Ital Tek’s career, so far hidden in the background of the IDM scene, given the tepid reception that “Cyclical”, his first LP for Planet Mu, received. There was nothing wrong with “Cyclical,” in reality: it was a fusion of textural complexity and dubstep rhythms with a tip of greater-than-usual acceleration, like putting DJ Distance and Autechre in the same room after four days without food. But it was an album with a definite niche, to please a sector of abrupt electronic fans, and also at a time when dubstep was strong as a genre and allowed no contamination. But the tables have turned, dubstep has disintegrated into dozens of mixtures, and Ital Tek has given a turn to his sound as well, taking it from that initial whirlwind to this synaesthetic and contemplative plane. And this is when “Midnight Colour” grows.
It grows until it situates itself in the proximities of the other two big talents of the IDM-meets-postdubstep of Planet Mu, FaltyDL –who also has a taste for a sexy cadence, without accelerations that are out of context, the use of analogue modulations in the notes that come from a mixture of warmth and nervousness– and also Boxcutter, although in the case of Barry Lynn the breaks expand like a rainbow, or like the tail of a peacock, while Ital Tek keeps them on a leash so that they don’t move any more than necessary: “Moonbow” could be the perfect example, as the rhythm struggles to take off and escape from orbit, but is kept in line to propitiate a moment of delicious tension. Beauty and tension are two other ideas that are strong points of this album: not counting the end, in which Ital Tek includes a touch of soul (“Restless Tundra”, with the vocal participation of Anneka), the other twelve tracks participate in an idea of immersion in sound, inviting you to dive into it with exceptional security measures. Ital Tek wants you to enter into it –as if it were the water at a translucent, paradisiacal beach– you can see the bottom not far away, without hindering your aesthetic enjoyment. Perhaps someone will miss the turbulence of “Cyclical”, those waves of electronic storm, but compared with this “Midnight Colour”, that debut seems like an angry child who starts shouting and stomping its feet for attention. This, on the other hand, is a mature artist who prefers to conquer with gentlemanly manners and a few sly tricks. Everything is going the right way for him to enter the Olympus of English electronic music, a place where there are so many gods that they almost can’t all fit in. His next step, on his next album, has a difficult and exciting mission: to knock down those doors, enter, and stay there. Alan, you can do it.
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