Although it skilfully avoided mainstream appeal, Dextro’s ‘Consequence Music’ bridged the gap between shoegaze and electronica with a very likeable blend of addictive melody, floataway noise and solid rhythmic backbones. That was back in 2006 and the ideals of Ewan Mackenzie may have changed little but crucially, the quality also remains for the follow-up ‘Winded’.
‘Closer’ makes perfect sense of the Boards Of Canada comparisons. The track is a collage of unintelligible voices and warped effects with only the shoegazer hook keeping it afloat in a sea of confusion. For ‘The Pacifist’, a sombre piano loop provides the tune before it is joined by some queasily seductive guitar work. The widescreen feel of ‘Momentary’ even features a Mackenzie vocal for the first time and although it amounts to little more than a husky whisper, it’s a timely reminder of how human this music can be. These ideas are supported by the fact that ‘Winded’ is based on more live instrumentation than before.
Thereafter a few tracks are a little wishy-washy. The trickling water and acoustic strumming for ‘The Unknown’ or the breathy harmonies of ‘Ilm’ resemble little more than mood music. ‘Sanna’, however, reasserts Mackenzie’s hold on the listener by recapturing that gift for mystery and the rhythmic intensity with which he began the album.
‘Winded’ begins well but suffers towards the end with some tracks that – not unlike the similarly epic M83 – lack substance. However, as with ‘Consequence Music’, this is also a very cohesive record that frequently conjures up macabre, beautiful and nostalgic images through its hazy, dreamlike sounds.
Nathan Fake. M83, Boards Of Canada