Review: Isotherme – “Nail”

It had been quite some time that I enjoyed an album so thoroughly, let alone an album of electronic music.

I became aware of Isotherme‘s work via my twitter surroundings, which, via scatterfilter, have drifted into a more electronic direction in recent time. However, I didn’t become aware of it before an announcement for his latest relase, Nail.
There’s not that much I found with regard to self-indulgent posterity by this artist, so, different from what I often (too often?) do, I simply decided to listen to this bandcamp release.

It immediately became clear to me that Nail is what you’d call a concept album – and in my world, that’s a good thing. Many of the nine tracks (three of which share the title “Nail”) fade into each other, and apart from doing that from a mastering standpoint, they also do so musically.
The music is, to me, very unobtrusive, almost subtle, without being in any way boring. While the album is electronic (meaning: synthesizers) from top to bottom, it avoids being pigeonholed into one specific genre, instead spanning and fusing ambient, synthpop, and other categories into this set of tracks.
Avoiding pop or electronic dance song structures, structural influences I seem to find are of Terry Riley and early electronic ambient music, combined with just a hint of Kraftwerk and Jarré.
There’s a very diverse sonic array of sounds, but again subtely diverse, without hitting you with incompatible sounds. And while there’s some very analogue-tainted sounds in the mix, the overall sonic picture for me has a decidedly digital feel to it.
There is, from the view of my sonic and musical cosmos, one point of critizism, and that is the piano parts and sounds present from time to time. Both on Increase the Separation, the album’s most groovy track to my ears, and on the closing A Simple Light, the piano sounds (reminiscent of late 80s sampler implementations) and also the arrangement/delivery just slightly ruin the picture.
Another point worth mentioning is with the aforementioned closing track, which to me doesn’t feel to properly “close” the album – but that may very well have to do with the underlying concept.

After listening to the album for various times, I discovered that it is, indeed a concept album – inspired by the Opus 40 art installation the composer visited in 2014. While I haven’t seen this work of art, I don’t know if I need to actually visit it. I fear it will be a big disappointment in comparison to the music.

Highly recommended!

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