exm :: llmnt (Touched Music)

The album abounds with weird, wonderful sounds, complex rhythms, cold, haunting melodies and a whole lot of dark, dim elements that make it a great listen as a whole.

exm :: llmnt (Touched Music)

I’ve been on a tear lately about music that works subtly, is restrained and intelligently reductive while not being a pastiche of other works. It’s so hard to find music like that. Well thank God for exm and his crazy album llmnt. exm sounds like Autechre in a parallel universe if they hadn’t gone into such an abstract route after Chiastic Slide. But exm isn’t copying; no, he’s plunging headlong into some new and different territory here. The album abounds with weird, wonderful sounds, complex rhythms, cold, haunting melodies and a whole lot of dark, dim elements that make it a great listen as a whole.

“minus 1,” the opening track, lopes along in 6/8 time with a number of sluggish metallic elements, tortured pianos and weird bleeps and blips as if heralding the arrival of some terrible alien machine god. It’s boggy, dark and strange and wonderful. “Hold On” lifts out of the mire slightly in an off-kilter beat, a staggering rhythm with small ice stabs attempting to work out a melody with the bass thuds like muddied dulcimers at the edge of a swamp before evolving into something much lighter with swirling drones and the light patter of crystalline sounds like alien birds fluttering against a net.

“SH010” (a musical pun for those in the know) starts with a tumbling grinder of a baseline around thumping, pattering drums while a melancholic chord progression ekes out a hazy, vaporous path before strings come in to work their own shimmering way across the song’s soundscape. “Mergchi argch” has a funky groove to it, albeit under the weird squiggling sound of a tortured synth like a mouse trying to rap; despite this the track has a decidedly pensive mood to it as if foreboding something tense or bad happening in the other room.

“sT bra c” warbles like a robot afflicted with a terminal machine disease, spouting weirdness in an off-kilter rhythm and beat until it warps out of control while the drums skip, scatter and plop as if trapped in tar. The whole thing comes to a total stop as “Under Hell” abruptly begins with a throbbing synths and skittering blips roll around like loose ball bearings in a time machines guts before brassy synths scar the upper registers like meteors striking the moon’s surface.

Overall, exm excels at conjuring strong moods while displaying a powerful knowledge of the machines he bends to his will. This album bears repeated listenings and in fact demands it as there are many hidden elements not found on only a cursory reviewing. It would be wrong to think he’s just imitating Autechre because while his sound is somewhat familiar he is embarking on entirely new territory all his own. And let no one stand in his way as he does so.

llmnt is available on Touched Music.

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