Review : Radians - Chimeric
PitchforkThe cobbled-together beast from Greek mythology known as a chimera should be a recognizable concept for fans of electronic music, a genre that has evolved via the repurposing, re-contextualizing, and splicing together of sounds and samples. The instrumental, electro-acoustic Austrian trio Radian has spent more than a decade as a seemingly contradictory hybrid itself. Perched between precise composition and improvisational creation, members Martin Brandlmayr, Stefan Németh, and John Norman wear their glitch-heavy, avant-garde pedigrees on their collective sleeve, making sure their songs are sculpted and pockmarked just so. But on Chimeric, they stretch out and breathe a bit more, elongating melodies and placing more accent on organic sounds, such as wisps of brushed snare drums and the vibraphones' soft echo.
The band's last album, 2004's Juxtaposition, blended labored-over microtones and billowy bass; on "Rapid Eye Movement", Brandlmayr's taps, scrapes and brushes don't accompany as much as sync up with oscillating, mechanical screeches and tones. Chimeric is relatively looser and less dense, owing to more reliance on live interaction. While it's arguable how loose the micro-managing trio allowed themselves to become during mixing, since recordings were re-organized and spliced together as if working with a tape machine, Chimeric sounds like the product of less tense and more spacious recording sessions. The band considers the record raw, broken, and unpolished, but they have nothing to be apologetic about. By loosening up they sound invigorated.
The hum of a switch being slowly flicked on and off at the outset of opener "Git Cut Noise" could be a gesture toward the analog and imperfect. It continues stomping forward in fitful starts, eventually picking up a caustic tone and a bass line with a slow, creeping gait. The 10-minute "Feedback Mikro / City Lights" indulges in a slow-burning crescendo, with interplay between a bright, churning guitar line, wavering tones, and a circular, ramshackle drum pattern. Songs like "Chimera" find the band occupying a more open landscape. It's a dusty plateau dotted with lonely snatches of guitar notes and sweeping cymbals, one of the many finely tuned sounds Brandlmayr coaxes out of his drum kit. In his hands, the drums seem as rich a source of textures and tones as a sampler, ranging from slow, sweeping pulses to chaotic, jagged fills....full text
BbcAustrian electronic post-rockers Radian haven’t made a record since 2004’s John McEntire-produced Juxtaposition – an obliquely minimalist, dub bass heavy record which brought a style, substantively minted by the Chicagoan producer’s own combo, Tortoise, a decade before, full circle. Five years on, the Vienna-based trio of bassist John Norman, drummer/vibes player Martin Brandlmayr and synth/guitarist Stefan Németh have regrouped, now seemingly intent on distilling post-rock to an esoteric essence.
No avant-rock grandees were involved in the making of Chimeric (other than the trio themselves). Recorded and mixed not in Chicago but at the Austrian capital’s Hugosound studio, its forbidding overture may make some wish that an expurgating presence had been on hand, however. Opener Git Cut Noise certainly takes no prisoners – its inchoate clang and scrape sounds like Scott Walker’s Tilt being mangled by Autechre and makes perfect onomatopoeic sense of its title. It proves to be a deceptive hors d’oeuvre, however, as this is about as dissonant as the album gets....full text
PampelmooseLike many of the artists signed to the venerable Thrill Jockey label, the Austrian trio known as Radian have, since 1996, carved out a comfortable place for themselves in the music world. Their five albums, including this one, have found them cobbling together roughly constructed songs out of shards of sonic ephemera, with the end results starkly beautiful, gratingly noisy or some glorious combination of the two.
Their latest work is no exception, but it is an album that finds the group at their most stalwart and thrilling. The mere six tracks on Chimeric find that rare balance for a group of its kind where the live playing and the processed sounds mesh perfectly together. You can still hear the clips of edits and feel the ground drop out from underneath you when a wash of sound disappears, but you are just as quickly caught by the sturdy, minimal drumming of Martin Brandlmyr and the steady flow of ambience that underpins almost every song....full text
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