214 :: North Bend (Shipwrec)

Rich, dark, bright, textured and a cracking record.

214 :: North Bend (Shipwrec)

In all music there are certain names that shine brighter. Some artists grab the headlines. This position in the limelight can be based on past glories or down to sheer volume of releases. Sometimes it can be the all-important nod that shifts attention. Merit can be easily overshadowed. Chris Roman (aka J.Alvarez, aka 214) falls into this shade.

Touchin’ Bass. Harbour City Sorrow. Frustrated Funk. Just some of the labels this man has called home. But, for me, within electro, Roman’s mainstay, he’s been somewhat overlooked. North Bend is a prime example of what you might have missed.

The album is wonderfully cold, mists and fogs adding just a hint of thaw in the chilly computer tones. But this isn’t to be mistaken as inhumane frigidity; this LP is brimming with feeling. Haunting synthlines introduce the record. Beats are just about suppressed with ghosting chords being the focal point of “At 10 Knots.” Warming moments come in breezes. Tracks like “Dew Drops” and “Mind Racer” bring autumnal undercurrents before wintry moods return. Lines are drawn under preconceptions of electro as mechanics melt and emotional weight takes holds in pieces like “Machine Language.” 214 achieves a frozen brittle beauty, capturing lightness and fragility in “La Proxima Manana.” But there are moments of flirtation. “Pickles and Mint” toys with drums, shattering percussion and crumpling rhythms. And this is at the core, diversity, roundness and fullness accomplished by this seriously able artist.

I recently read a post of on Roman’s Facebook. It went along the lines of electro not being so good for gigs. Since then gigs in Berlin and London have been announced, and I’ve no doubt there is more to come based on the complexity and cleverness of North Bend. Rich, dark, bright, textured and a cracking record. Who’s being overlooked?

North Bend is available on Shipwrec. [Clone]

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