Twelve Days/Cluster by Loren Jan Wilson Ii (Review)

At its best, this contains the kind of music I wish Warp released all the time.

I received this album in the mail a few weeks ago, after Loren e-mailed me and asked if I’d review it. Although I love getting demo submissions (it strokes my ego as a music reviewer), I always feel a little hesitant. What if I don’t like it? I don’t want to dash their musical aspirations because of my little ol’ opinion. But what if I love it? They might think I’m just being nice because I don’t want to dash their musical aspirations. So with that little dilemma going on, I popped this into the stereo.

To be honest, I’m find myself feeling a little from column A and a little from column B with this one. There’s a really disparate range of music on this CD, which clocks in at 70 minutes, and is actually two releases in one.

The first section, Twelve Days is spotty. The music here ranges from darkly introspective pop songs (“Sex Is Boring”) to electronic noodlings and noise (“translucent stars [blush]”) to recordings of Wilson as a kid (“Katmandu”). Nothing really stands out to me here, with the exception of ​“Sex Is Boring.” It’s too random, and though it’s obvious that Wilson has talent, it doesn’t quite poke through in these early songs. I had listened to some MP3s of Wilson’s work, which sounded really good, but these songs weren’t doing it for me.

However, my ears perked up on “$hkpkax_​python.” Reminiscent of some of µ-ziq’s music on Lunatic Harness, a stuttering beat that sounds like it’s about to fall apart is paired with melancholy, droning synths — Wilson’s whispering vocals hover in the background. The vocals are a little distracting, but offer a nice touch to the song.

I find the second section, Cluster, to be far more captivating and listenable. Cluster is all electronic music, and though there are some distractions here and there (“Datastream” sounds like a modem with a bad case of the runs), there’s also some great stuff. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that tracks like ​“arp[2..2]” and ​“ether,mist” sound like the kind of music I wish Warp released all the time. “$hindsi_​ght” sounds like Oval’s ​“Dok” slowly being deconstructed, whereas ​“bli(ndne)ss” is probably what you’d get if you combined Aphex Twin’s ambient work with the funk of Boards of Canada.

From the liner notes, it looks like Cluster is the newest of the two, and I think that’s a good thing. I really like this sound and direction, and I think fans of intelligent electronic music would do well to at least check out Mr. Wilson’s Cluster. Unfortunately, Wilson’s server recently went down, along with all of his MP3s, but he does have a new album coming out that, if Cluster is any sign, should be really good.