Freewill :: Quadrivium (Electronique.it)

Electronique.it has been looking at the melodic and thought-provoking sounds of the analogue armchair. Its first two EP’s peered at ambient, IDM and electronica with a techno and electro slant. Now it’s time for an album from Freewill titled Quadrivium.

Freewill 'Quadrivium'IDM peaked. General statement alright, but gimme a minute. As a youngster, growing up in the midlands of Ireland, there was little in the way of electronic music influences. A proportion of the records I bought as a kid would come under the IDM or electronica heading, early Warp Records and A.R.T. and then into more “computer” generated sounds like Arovane or Musik Aus Strom. In many ways IDM peaked before its time, the flood of copy drowning all in a sea of similarity. But there are labels and artists still exploring this often ignored genre. Electronique.it has been looking at the melodic and thought-provoking sounds of the analogue armchair. Its first two EP’s peered at ambient, IDM and electronica with a techno and electro slant. Now it’s time for an album. A CD only from Freewill titled Quadrivium. But this is not new material. No, this album was made in the 90s and buried until today. Prepare to shed some years.

The warm electronics of The Black Dog is an immediate comparison. Beats are multifaceted, drawing the in the listener through a cacophony of machine pulsations, as a drifting melody curves and bends in the opening track. “Isolation” sees clouds of softened chords floated across clicks and rasps. The track is again retrospective, but not in a clichéd way. Instead this is of the forgotten brilliance that made labels like New Electronica or Likemind so pioneering. The nostalgia produced by this album is uncanny, it exhales with the gentle machine sounds of the UK circa ‘93. Elements of breakbeat, as in most UK electronic records of the 90’s, is present; snares and toms rumbling for “Quasar” and “In the Middle of the Night.” “Crispy Bacon” has the feel of Stasis to it, lounging with dreamy strings and a late night sentiment. “Strange Lifeform” is a rarity, a drill and bass track. Saddened chords are imposed over a barrage of broken snares for a charming throwback akin to Mr Jenkinson. “Zero” is a serrated piece of electronics. A beautifully delicate melody is stalked, and attacked, by jagged beats in a piece reminiscent of Gescom and more specifically Patcha Kutek on Beta Bodega. The delicate plinks, plips and plonks of “Fractal Shape” brings the wistful curtain down on Quadrivium.

I left the middle of Ireland a decent while ago. But I do return. My childhood bedroom remains. In it lies a store of records, CD’s and tapes from the likes of Beaumont Hannant and B12. When I go back I listen to those sounds that inspired me as a young adult. This is what Quadrivium is. The album is a soundtrack of my formative days. But not just my days. It is a soundtrack of the formative days of electronic music. Artists were groundbreaking, labels were putting out unheard sounds and everything was exciting. I still feel that timid anticipation when listening back to compilations on GPR or early Reload records. That same energy and exuberance is contained in Quadrivium. With the recent scramble to unearth old acid and house records, to return to Chicago and Detroit; is there anything to be said for quick trip to Sheffield? Maybe Manchester?

Did IDM peak?

Quadrivium is available on Electronique.it.

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