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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Album Review: AyGeeTee's FOOLS - Transcending EDM

How to describe AyGeeTee? He is one of those artists whose work does not sit comfortably in any of the established subgenres of electronic music. Impervious to the flavor-of-the-month or meme-of-the-week, he eschews making concessions to the various trends and fads that dominate the internet-DIY music scene. 

AyGeeTee is the recording project of a mysterious and private London-based artist. Combining aspects of house, dub, ambient, and even funk with the minimalist techniques of Steve Reich and Phillip Glass in a way that no one else is doing, AyGeeTee doggedly pursues his own unique vision. He is one of the few recording artists working in DIY today that can truly be said to have a sound of their own, and his recordings prove him eminently worthy of the appellation 'artist'. 

 He is a prolific uploader to his Soundcloud, which he uses to air experiments and unfinished or unmastered material. But it is his albums that contain his A-game material. Soul (April 2011) and Is It Safe (Dec 2011) were both knockouts; albums that grow and expand with repeated listening. Both sets have proven to be of enduring interest. Apparently, he's been (wisely) holding back sharing this new stuff; Fools is his first album of new music under the AyGeeTee imprint since Is It Safe, and it's comprised of almost all previously unheard material. 

The typical AyGeeTee track begins with a simple rhythm or loop. Layers of percussion, noise, beats, vocal samples, and even stringed instruments are added, building multiple rhythms. Some of the loops are slightly out of sync, so variations are produced, and the beats are shuffled and worked, never taking the established paths, but rather combining in surprising and novel ways. Dense and spacious in alternating turns, the music transcends the narrow limits of EDM, building into thundering, crunching monuments of towering sonic sculpture, more akin to the 'sound art' of Fluxus than to the typical chillwave track.

I walked to a nearby waterfall to listen to the album. There is a rock perfectly situated for viewing the falls as the late morning sun shines down through the spray. The gushing water falls over the face of the rock, splashing into a million drops which recombine and dance in the light. Fools provided the perfect aural compliment to this scene. I delighted at the illusion of the movement of the water being in time with the music, lost in the abstracted spectacle. The music awakens the sense of wonder and beauty, extending the possibilities of what instrumental electronic music can do. 

Below are key tracks from Fools, representing the spectrum of music in the set; "Famous Gum" which begins with a very familiar drum sample, which is quickly lost in a jungle of tribal pounding down-and-dirty phonk, "Unit 16 Again", which will forever evoke that morning watching the waterfall in an enchanted psychedelic trance, "Pet Vault", a witchy wonder, "Vagaries", exploring the possibilities of beauty in noise, and "MonoFire In HD", the coda of which demonstrates the full power of AyGeeTee's unique shuffling beats. 

The album is available through AMDISCS for €8.00 (about $10 USD), an absolute bargain for what is surely one of the best albums of electronic music this year. And by all means, if you don't have his previous albums, get them here. They're free!  

The lovely album artwork is by Organ Armani.

AyGeeTee - 'Famous Gum' - Fools - 2013 (AMD011/AMDD130) by AMDISCS AyGeeTee - 'Unit 16 Again' - Fools - 2013 (AMD011/AMDD130) by AMDISCS AyGeeTee - 'Pet Vault' - Fools - 2013 (AMD011/AMDD130) by AMDISCS AyGeeTee - 'Vagaries' - Fools - 2013 (AMD011/AMDD130) by AMDISCS
AyGeeTee - 'MonoFire in HD' - Fools - 2013 (AMD011/AMDD130) by AMDISCS
AyGeeTee - 'Amor Buscador' - Fools - 2013 (AMD011/AMDD130) by AMDISCS

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