Conelrad
Function Creep
2007
B



can album reviews still serve a useful purpose? Music is currently so accessible that it's possible for interested parties to sift through the pile without the need for any kind of "guidance." In fact, some might take offense at the very idea of their taste being shaped by external influences.

Clambering out of this self-dug grave for a second, the obvious counter to any "death of reviews" theory is the sheer volume of music available--especially of the free (non-pirated), self-released variety. The workers control the means of production now, with capable software easy to acquire and a basic method of distribution provided by the internet. While this may have led to a moderate change in the ratio of crap-to-decent, the most noticeable effect is a huge boost in quantity. Rather than hunting for one good album in twenty, you might be searching for five in two hundred.

If nothing else, then, I can save you a bit of time by saying "this freebie release by Conelrad is definitely worth a listen."

Like the much-appreciated From Here We Go Sublime, Function Creep is largely mixed and constructed in Buzz—which is exciting news if things like sequencers and trackers get you all hot and bothered. If not, there's still much to enjoy in the multi-layered ambience and restrained beats of an intriguingly pastoral apocalypse.

Yes, if the name hadn't already tipped you off to the angle of Cold War paranoia, then the opening reference to War Games should heat the isotopes of realization. However, rather than a bombastic approach of whoosh-bang melodrama, Function Creep deals in unease and sadness. The everyday travails of life, interspersed with the lingering possibility of total thermonuclear destruction. A chilling calm, reflecting the dispassionate ease with which decisions about nuclear proliferation are taken by those at the highest levels of power; as well as the haunting prospect of fallout, sickness, and, with luck, the frail regeneration of society.

Of course, with the majority of the record being instrumental, this is purely interpretative. It's arguably fully instrumental, as the vocoder-heavy words are mixed relatively deep, providing just another tier of sound to the tracks on which they appear. Nonetheless, it's possible—almost inevitable—that images will form amidst the treated synths and drones. The whirr and hum of an electronic array. Glimpses of planes overhead. A barren wasteland devoid of life.

These effects are most clearly realized in a splendid piece of sequencing at the album's climax. Centered around a prolonged, crumbling guitar sample, "Target City" could be the erosion of cliffs by ever-present waves, or the rising sun illuminating the husks of buildings; the shadow of shoegazing cast long and pale. This bleeds seamlessly into the dystopian sweep of "Sarcophagus," which revolves with crystalline majesty around a desolate world. Desolate, maybe, but peaceful—and ripe for rebuilding, as the irradiated glow gradually fades to insignificance.

It feels a little strange to recommend a nuclear-themed record for its relaxing properties, yet this is precisely what Function Creep offers. The eerie prospect of beauty from total destruction. Tranquility in loneliness. A mushroom cloud unfurling in slow motion. Though Boards of Canada influences are always near, they never overwhelm a thoughtful, engrossing piece of work. But then you probably already knew that, because you just pillaged the link at the top and bypassed the review entirely, didn't you? You bastard.



Reviewed by: Peter Parrish
Reviewed on: 2007-10-12
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