Lamenting Machine by ISAN

ISAN | Lamenting Machine
Morr Music (LP/CD/DL)

Wow, this is a tricky record. While there are so many strange tragedies happening in our international political landscape, ISAN (Robin Saville and Antony Ryan) comes through with a record to take you away from the gibberish confusion for forty-four minutes of blissful electronics. More than ever in their near fourteen years recording together, Lamenting Machine comes together not only at an apropos time, but offers tranquilizing rhythms and bubbly soundscapes without any aftertaste whatsoever.

The gentle climb of Memory Cascades is a far cry from the abstraction of Beautronics (1998, Tugboat Records). The duo’s cadences have become refined and ultimately have smoothed with age, not too much so though. At times this could be dropped into the background of a single origin coffeehouse, but the jitters are left behind. If you are hankering for music resembling luxury silk (Perlon), this will accommodate with its lush patina. Having noticed them early on I could only have dreamt (back in the day) that their sound would become as fine vintage. And while these superlatives may seem as though they are overstepping, I dare you to put the needle to wax without slipping into gradations of grandeur (Strix Aluco).

While sounding exquisitely lighthearted from the outside, a closer inspection reveals a richly orchestrated and multi-layered musical riddle, mimicking a hedge maze of gargantuan scale and complexity, with each tone and each rhythmic pattern to be dissected, analysed and understood individually in order to find the way out. Getting lost in the moment while doing so never felt better.

Some may find their slowness, and subtlety (Ephemeroptera) to be a bit boring, but one wo/man’s tedium is another wo/man’s euphoria. And even when they veer with the snap of Calliscope the undulating path and pattern continues. Finally, the title cut offers a nimble exit strategy. The future (and seemingly the present) is bright, bathed in pretty, if only slightly blurred, tones and a retro click track. Oh that sweet lament!

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