Roly Porter - Third Law - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Roly Porter - Third Law

by Justin Pearson Rating:8 Release Date:2016-01-22

There's no arguing that 2015 had its share of phenomenal electronic music. Both Arca's Mutant and Oneohtrix Point Never's Garden of Delete stood out as abstract works that touched upon deeper, more defined feelings underneath the messy surfaces. Kicking off 2016 quite impressively, Roly Porter's Third Law does the same thing, but with a more focused intensity. Perhaps this is in part because of its seemingly "concept album" nature, or it's just simply because Porter is a musician that's able to clear away the clutter to reveal the finer points of his art.

Where a similar artist like The Haxan Cloak plumbs the dark depths of the soul, Porter shines a spotlight on the equally dark, yet endlessly searchable realm of the unknown. Third Law is a journey not so much concerned with arrival, but actual, real-time travel. Even without the space-reflected-eyeball album cover and song titles for clues as to what's going on, you can feel it in your bones as you're propelled along by forces unfamiliar, jolting your body into an uneasy but satisfying submission that rewards strictly through experiencing it. It could be seen somewhat as an exercise in osmosis.

According to Resident Advisor, Third Law is where Porter is "...coming to terms with his goal of leaving dance music as it is, free to explore ideas of rhythm, bass, sound design within his own world without having to shape any of these elements to fit preconceived ideas or rules." But Porter's not just a rebellious rule-breaker that does it selfishly for the thrill. Instead, he embraces eloquence as a means to convey his vision in doses of freshness, handing it over to the listener in the process.

There's excitement in the unfolding as you make your way through the album, like points on a map to clue you in as to your surroundings and what might happen as a result. It could easily be an alternate soundtrack for the Stanley Kubrick film "2001: A Space Odyssey." Opening track '4101' calls to mind the scene in said film where the characters encounter an obelisk. There's an anticipatory aura of not knowing, and a slight dread in the mystery that might be revealed.

Album highlight 'Mass' is a heavy thing. Distortion leads way to bouncing, relentless bass that's let loose in a mind-melting, gravity-dominated fury. It works itself into a time-warped frenzy as a disembodied voice escapes the g-force of the song, its echo the only remnant of the person it belonged to - he or she perhaps now in some parallel universe.

What's even more admirable about the album is the consistency reflecting the combined sense of dread and awe that accompanies exploration. This is especially felt in the static-covered, pounding bass of 'Blind Blackening' or deliberate bass-drops of the commanding 'Departure Stage.' There's doom, yes, but there's also the realization that you're taking part in something larger than yourself, and Porter manages to underscore this universal longing with his deft manipulation of sound.

The cacophonous 'In Flight' clangs and disturbs along its journey with an appropriate sense of chaos. This is what crossing another dimension in time and space might feel like. Once the piloting adjustments are made and the switches engaged, the view then becomes revelatory as you make your way to the other side.

Third Law is dark, but not in a depressing way where the power can't be turned back on. The lights are occasionaly out, but the alienation you experience highlights your individuality and aloneness as an explorer/traveller - or in this case - a listener; it's concerned with the blackness, but not of it. You feel your way through a cosmos that points ahead to a fuzzy brightness that blinks, even if only dimly at first. Closing track 'Known Space' confirms this hope in a single, ascending melody line, culminating in the confidence that comes with discovery. What was unkown at the start is now in front of you as you look all around, and it leaves you feeling the same way about Porter himself.

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