CD Review

Arp, In Light (Smalltown Supersound)

Inspired by a demo created for an art exhibit, Arp's In Light is soft, repetitious and often thoughtfully adrift. Other times, it's itchy and claustrophobic, with unreal sounds clawing to get ahead of one another. It's all the work of Alexis Georgopoulos, who left his key role in San Francisco's double-drummered instrumentalists Tussle last year. With Arp, he turns to protracted electronic music as the next thing on his list to deconstruct. It's an organic record, though, recorded mostly live and using only a single loop.

The stage is set with "St Tropez," which spikes a quietly hypnotic backdrop with quivering synth melodies recalling underrated Warp artists Plone. "Potentialities," with its Eno-esque title, opens with the ominous throb of a pulse machine and again brings in the synth early, but things are trickier and more dynamic. Georgopoulos builds off the first track, distorting its features while excavating new ones. The eerie momentum peaks after about five minutes, and the tangled sounds dip into the horizon soon after, leaving room for the aptly titled "The Rising Sun," which breaks from the mold with tender piano and lingering wisps of flute.

Courtesy of Smalltown Supersound.
Courtesy of Smalltown Supersound.

"Fireflies On the Water" is similar to the first two tracks but wills itself to atrophy in a way they didn't, while "Premonition of the Sculptor Steiner" is more expansive and sinister, chipping in a driving synth line that could have been lifted from Tangerine Dream's "Risky Business," if it didn't mutate so much. "Odyssey (for Bas Jan Ader)" stretches to 15 minutes, tackling all the album's themes in one, yes, odyssey. The closing "Potentialities II" picks up where its earlier incarnation left off to drive home a darker, more dynamic thrust. Imagine a hostile takeover of the sedate minimalism that opened the album, or just another side of Georgopoulos' eager explorations.

 
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