Review: Obfusc – Cities Of Cedar

For his day job, Joseph Burke works as a photographer and graphic designer in New York. Yet away from his usual employment, Burke becomes electronica artist Obfusc who sees his first album as a “sort of statement of acceptance to urban existence, for good or worse”. As one would hope for, ‘Cities Of Cedar’ is an evocative record and one which stands on its own two feet as an exercise in melodic electronic music.

For ‘Delayed Sunshine Reaction’, the analogue keyboards cast images of blinking into the morning sun on to the “empty streets”. ‘Close Your Eyes And Daydream’ initially seems to be another Boards Of Canada rip-off but the cute analog tune and layers of electronica mean that the title of the track is really a recommendation for how it should be listened to. Other notable moments such as ”Morning Walk To The Pier’ and ‘Mood Gradient’ resemble an earthbound Avrocar.

Remixes added to the end of an album tend to be a way of padding out shorter, less substantial releases but the ones included here actually add value. Boltfish labelmate Milieu, for example, filters ‘Sounds From Shattered Seashells’ through a chilly, ambient gauze whilst Phasen’s wintry treatment of ‘Morning Walk To The Pier’ is eerily beautiful. Then Ova Looven manage to make ‘Close Your Eyes And Daydream’ even more blissed-out.

Burke is very astute in his choice of samples whether it’s the sound of rushing water or snatches of conversation, there’s always an air of mystery apparent. Similarly, the music is enigmatic but uncluttered and always melodic and atmospheric enough to hold the listener’s attention for its sixty-minute duration. In fact, Burke’s only problem is that several of the remixes here are superior to his own original versions.

Web Sites:
Boltfish Recordings Label and Sho Site
Obfusc Official Site
Obfusc MySpace

Further Listening:
City Rain, Milieu, Boards Of Canada, Avrocar, David Newlyn, October Man

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