While Autechre long ago left this planet in search of the most alien of rhythms and melodies, exm hews to a more earthly path finding melody and harmony amidst the jarring broken rhythms and effected sounds of modern electronic music.
Too often one hears a snatch of electronic music and thinks, “This is trying too hard to be Autechre” while not often enough one hears something and thinks “Which Autechre is this?” only to find it isn’t the mighty Booth & Brown but is in fact something else. This is what happened to my ears whilst catching a snippet of exm’s Overscore on Touched.
This is not to say exm is derivative of the Sheffield avantgardists; on the contrary, while he (Jeroen Bax) works in similar mediums and methods exm is decidedly on his own path. While Autechre long ago left this planet in search of the most alien of rhythms and melodies, exm hews to a more earthly path finding melody and harmony amidst the jarring broken rhythms and effected sounds of modern electronic music.
“RanVOC” begins with a trudging beat slogging through silicon-drenched mud baths but closes out with an almost Arabic motif, though heavily synthesized and run through enough glitchy effects to keeps even the hardest of hearing from mistaking the sound for an oud or a snake charmer’s flute. “CP04” begins with a subtle, pensive electric piano motif before moving into a darkly pretty soundscape anchored by crunching, grinding drums and an almost orchestral arrangement turning it into a mechanical thing of beauty like some automaton’s ballet before unraveling in a pleasant manner. “drygxed” starts off like someone is having trouble tuning a few broken, squelchy synthesizers before slow evolving atmospherics emerge and work the song into a meditation on ambience and drone out of Byrne & Eno’s seminal “My Life in The Bush of Ghosts.” “OverscorE” turns that sweet ambience on its head with the energetic bouncing flanged drums and padded synthesizers creating a hazy place for sounds to knock gently into each other before detuned brassy chords like a bad Orbital song played through a broken iPod deliver some atonal weirdness quite possibly calculated to keep you from getting too comfortable with the sound of exm. “TenDowne” is a journey across intergalactic space ways while immersed in a bath of lysergic acid. Drums gently pound along while bass notes thud under your seat and swirling drones move across your atmosphere like liquid birds. The song is a delightful, weird trip showing a cinematic side to the music of exm. The EP closes with “Overscore (Nonima rmx)” which seems unnecessary as it takes away from the free-standing strength of exam’s music with an anticlimactic examination of the source music.
Overscore is highly recommended, a breath of fresh air and sound into what can often be a tired genre loaded with fakers and sycophants trying to emulate originators and masters without treading any new ground.
Overscore is available on Touched.