Luke Abbott - Translate Music Album Reviews

Luke Abbott - Translate Music Album Reviews
On his first album in six years, the UK producer spins freeform modular-synth improvisations into shaggily hypnotic psychedelia.

If the Ramones had grown up on Tangerine Dream and modular synthesis rather than classic rock and bubblegum, they might have produced something like Translate, the first solo album in six years from Norfolk, England producer Luke Abbott. That’s not to say that Translate shares the Ramones’ brevity, aggression, or wit—quite the opposite, in fact; here, glorious long-windedness is the order of the day. But Abbott shares with the New York punks a singular devotion to a narrowly defined sound, and on Translate he offers 11 versions on the theme of slowly mutating synth lines.
Great sweeps of analog synth give Translate its shape, breaking across the spectrum like tentacles of somber-colored paint or waves on a chilly autumn sea. Abbott’s recent work in the  jazz trio Szun Waves has bled into the new album, which he recorded as a series of improvised live performances. Spontaneity and freedom of spirit fuel the album’s 11 tracks, where sounds twist at turn at will, untethered from the functional four-bar grid of much modern electronic music. On “Flux” the synths constantly promise to resolve into elegant melody, only to deviate at the last moment, sending the song lurching off into another slightly queasy left turn. “Ames Window” sounds like mice scurrying round an electronic maze—a scuttling frenzy of semi-irregular movement that seems to make sense only when viewed from a distance.

There is something primal about Translate’s rather grubby kinetic repetition. To record the album, Abbott positioned speakers around Border Community label boss James Holden’s London studio in a configuration he compared to the standing slabs of Stonehenge. “Our Scene” is the perfect song for such a setup: Its driving rhythm, climbing walls of synth, and cycling melody trigger a response that feels buried deep in the mammalian brain, suggesting prehistoric humans dancing in circles after a hefty dose of local mushrooms.

In the right frame of mind Translate can be highly immersive, as undulating synth patterns and analog sounds choreograph our neural oscillations into a foxtrot of flux. But a sense of sameness soon sets in. Abbott described “Ames Window” as “an indulgent improvised modular synth track,” and that characterization could comfortably fit the majority of the work here; the most immediately apparent difference between most of these songs is their length. Even that distinction feels largely arbitrary: “Kagen Sound” could happily extend to nine minutes and “Ames Window” could easily reduce to three, with no real changes to the album’s vital signs.

The problem may be that the Norfolk producer is all alone on Translate. Szun Waves operate as a trio, each member bringing sounds for the others to bounce off. Translate is the work of a one-man band, and the same arpeggiated synth lines and drum-machine rhythms return again and again, with the admirable exception of “Feed Me Shapes,” which brings an unlikely blues guitar to the equation. The Ramones got away with their relentlessly reduced toolkit by writing brilliantly vital pop songs. But the melodies on Translate are rarely more than respectable.

As a soundtrack to the listener’s own personal trip into the eye of the almighty—or, more prosaically, a film—Translate might work brilliantly, with the music’s cumulative effect more important than its individual details. As a sit-down listening experience, the album frequently feels too repetitive to remain consistently engaging. Still, taken as a microdosed jolt of electronic psychedelia, a song or two at a time, Translate has the potential to lift you up, out, and beyond, to a better, stranger place.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Luke Abbott - Translate Music Album Reviews Luke Abbott - Translate Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, December 09, 2020 Rating: 5

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