Wisp: The Shimmering Hour

Rephlex, 2009

The Shimmering Hour cover

At first listen a week ago, this album seemed a bit cheesy, but it perfectly accompanies warm, sunny weather like today. While some of Wisp’s sounds are reminiscent of Analord or The Tuss, the over-the-top orchestration has more in common with artists like Frog Pocket and Secret Frequency Crew.

The first track, “Teddy Oggie,” is short and somewhat muffled, but “Picatrix” is better, with deep pipe organ bass and a syrup-sweet melody that veers dangerously close to pop near the end. “Keeper of the Hills” gets funky in the middle before turning almost ridiculously elaborate. “Flat Rock” starts with familiar chord changes, briefly adds a deep bassline, then breaks down to quasi-melancholy strings and alien computer noises.

“Seaway Trail” introduces the inevitable Aphex snare rushes. They work, though. “Hexenringe” is probably the best track here, with subtle, melancholy melody and then some Squarepusher-like breaks. “Katabatic” definitely shows Analord influences. “World Rim Walker” is a proper dark acid track topped off with horns, but unfortunately it’s followed by a weird Renaissance festival tune.

If the Frog Pocket and Secret Frequency Crew releases are any indication, this album will probably stay in my iPod for a while, but intricate, happy tracks tend to have a short life-span. Wisp obviously has great production skills, and a firm knowledge of British IDM. I’d love to hear him apply his skills to more experimental sounds and deeper themes. As much as I’m rooting for a resurgence of non-guitar home-listening electronics, it’s time for a giant leap.

3/5 stars

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