Bristol’s Will Yates makes music impressed by people rituals and ley strains—music of panorama and climate, of legend and delusion. Recording beneath the aliases Half Nelson, O.G. Jigg, and, primarily, Memotone, he has made information primarily based on Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and the Nineteenth-century Scottish poet James Hogg; he has written for chamber ensembles and soundtracked a brief movie about his father’s first fishing rod. It’s digital music, however it runs counter to the style’s futurist thrust. Within the custom of Boards of Canada, he makes use of out of date expertise to seize each bucolic calm and elegiac nostalgia, and it’s not at all times clear the place the catgut ends and the circuitry begins. Woodwinds are steadily refracted by way of eerie digital processing, conjuring the parallel fifths of Jon Hassell’s horn strains. Memotone’s hyperreal medievalism feels fitted to post-apocalyptic ceremonies. It’s the type of factor you think about the troubadours of Station Eleven getting as much as—powering salvaged synths and cassette decks with jury-rigged photo voltaic batteries, and capturing fading echoes of Twentieth-century recorded historical past (jazz, minimalism, exotica, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop) earlier than the final tape can crumble to mud.
On How Was Your Life?, Yates turns his consideration to a newer artifact: a Roland GR 33 guitar synthesizer from the 2000s. The secondhand buy afforded him a newfound freedom, unlocking a spread of tones that mimicked devices exterior his ability set: double bass, fretless bass, even tabla. He usual the album out of prolonged studio improvisations, abandoning his steadily conceptual means of working. In recent times, a lot of Yates’ music has been heavy on murky, dissonant frequencies, as if he have been rooting round for one thing in a peat lavatory. However How Was Your Life? is marked by a newfound readability, buoyed by the silvery tendrils of guitar; it’s his lightest and most unburdened file in a while, imbued with an nearly Balearic spirit of ease.
The opening “Paradise Drips” lays out the file’s palette. Suggestions shrieks like a seagull; digital mallets set up a shiny rhythm that drips just like the eaves after a summer time storm; a guitar melody with heavy glissando invokes the Durutti Column’s liquid fretwork. Structurally, it simply form of drifts, extra moodpiece than music: The guitar bobs and weaves over regular, lackadaisical conga slaps, and guitar figures slip sideways and unravel into dissonance. “Open World” is equally freeform, led by an ersatz stand-up bass solo and pitch-bent flute synths that wander blithely by way of a glowing discipline of layered pads. Its actions are pleasantly aimless, vacillating between melody and meandering, completely satisfied to linger on the idyllic vistas of Memotone’s uncanny valley.
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