I was talking with a friend last week about the beauty that is the Internet-based label phenomena. What it means for those of us who spend ungodly amounts of our life searching for, listening to, and thinking about music is a “virtual” cornucopia of new auditory stimuli for us to sift through.
Of course, there’s a downside to that, as there is with most things on-line. Just like the blogging phenomena allows anyone with a computer and an Internet connection to publish their thoughts for the world to read, regardless of whether or not they have anything valuable or insightful to say, netlabels allow anyone to post their music online regardless of whether or not there’s any merit to their sound.
This is doubly true once you get into the realm electronica. Every other netlabel out there is offering up electronica free for the download, be it ambient, trance, techno, dub, glitch, experimental, or downtempo. And most of the releases are, for the most part, sonic dross. All it takes these days is a laptop, a copy of FruityLoops, and you’re good go.
And so, for all of the lovely things about this phenomena, it can be somewhat disheartening. But then along comes something like Daniel Maze’s Lifeguard EP, and it makes the time spent worthwhile.
“What’s Your Poison” opens the 15-minute EP on a buoyant note, with playfully warbling synthtones (think a less ominous Boards of Canada), crunchy-yet-groovy bassline, and a sense of rhythm that makes you want to skip down some forest path.
“Waiting For the Bubbles To Disappear” is easily one of my fave electronic tracks of the year so far. Disembodied voices play off of reversed basslines as My Bloody Valentine-ish slabs of noise occasionally cry out in metallic protest, like the hull of a ship slowly sinking into some unexplored ocean trench. And yet, there’s a blissful, even ethereal sense about the whole descent that keeps drawing one back in. And song’s second part, an extended denouement really, in which all of the sounds are reduced into one shimmering, rippling slab of sound is just the perfect finishing touch.
After the goodness of that track, the album ends on a slightly weaker tone. That’s not to say that “Take Me To the Equator” is not a lovely track, with more gossamery Boards Of Canada-ish filigrees. Eventually, all of the song’s sounds meld into one increasingly blurry wall of sound, an effect that imbues its own sense of nostalgia. But even so, it’s no “Waiting For The Bubbles To Disappear.”
A bit of digging turns up a host of other EPs that the Vancouver-based Maze has released, on labels such as Standard KLIK, rest, and 12rec. Based on the strength of the Lifeguard EP, I can tell that I have quite a bit of downloading to do.