Al Lover - Existential Everything - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Al Lover - Existential Everything

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:6 Release Date:2019-02-01
Al Lover - Existential Everything
Al Lover - Existential Everything

Al Lover's new album Existential Everything  is a tough critter to pin down. It's mostly ambient, but in that restless way a group like The Orb is, where beats and bits of effluvia disrupt the meditative aspects frequently. It was recorded over a period spanning 2016-2018, and perhaps it is that long time span that gives the set its somewhat scattered sound.

Opener 'Uninhibited Dither' builds slowly, pulsing and surging as if it's going burst forth into a club-friendly dance track, but just as the intensity starts to peak out, everything dissipates to mist and a slightly haunting melody floats around for a while before giving way to the build again, which eventually breaks down into its component parts. 'California Yuga' feels like a continuation, with a clever and stealthy synth line brought back in time from a cyberpunk spy film. 'Portable Dada Device' mixes ghostly strings and a croaking frog bassline. A wonderfully crusty beat shows up in the second half of the song, adding lots of texture.

'Static Snake Charmer' is a weird one. It's somewhere between trip-hop and witch house, with intermittent moaning and a creepy synth. 'Consensus Reality' (the title is a classic psychedelic phrase) is a brief interlude on an electrified iceberg populated by tribal drummers. 'Heavy Rain in Visual Fields', the longest track on the album at just over nine minutes is another string-centric track, spending its entire first half lounging around in a cloud of endless pads with string riffs repeating again and again. But finally, they fade and give way to a slow synth melody and very light percussion. This is perhaps the most ambient tune on the album, sitting somewhere between Massive Attack and The Orb.

'Hubris in Real Time' has a grindier synth line that sends it back into witch house territory by way of Ty Segall. 'Subversive Science' is a perfect Halloween song, with a spooky melody and more funeral dirge bass notes. 'Quarantined Cauldron' goes farther into the same dark world, slowly spinning out layers of competing synths that roll and spiral over each other like mournful spirits. 'Haunted Trap House' sounds pretty much like you'd expect from the title. If they last few songs have been a journey into darkness, this is the conclusion: a buzzy void that reaches out and drags you into oblivion. 'Reverberating Gymnasium' is a little more quirky. Although it starts out very ambient and breathy, it works in nice vibrato bass and some goofy effects. The personality here is akin to some of Michael Paradinas aka u-ziq's work. 'Death in Texas' is an ocean of pads tweaked just enough to create the outline of a melody in the early going, but it gets a bit more coherent towards its conclusion, with an odd Eastern flavor through the middle.

'Electric Meat' is a few different songs mashed into each other, end to end. It starts out as the echoing remnants of an exploded starship twirling in space, but then a simple beat shows up just after the one-minute mark, and a powerfully electric (yes, I see what I did there, sorry) buzz energizes the tune. Around two minutes, another simple element, an extremely sweet keyboard part, shows up and takes command. At three minutes, a second, more complex and enthralling percussive line joins in. All the elements are in place by the four-minute mark, with lots of glitter splashing across the song. But right after it really gets going, almost everything drops out, and you're left floating in the middle of nowhere. Strings give the song a little more interest, but it spends its final two minutes disappearing into shadows again. It's disappointing because the best, most interesting part only lasts for maybe twenty seconds.

This album is varied but also a bit restricted. There are moments of sublime bliss as in the best ambient works, but at times it also seems to want to be trip hop, or witch house, or even IDM. But it never really settles into place. And it seems like the more compelling moments are deemphasized in favor of self-indulgent noodling in places. It's not bad, but it doesn't achieve its full potential either. Still, there are enough distinctive pieces to make it worthwhile.

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