“Post-” is a prefix that comes up in an art world struggling with overlapping genres and non-linear history, one you’ll no doubt here today on an anniversary of a truly terrible day in Manhattan. But what does it mean to come after something, and where can it go? It’s sometimes best to simply listen to music to answer that.
A clarion, original musical voice from Mexico, Fax – Ruben Alonso Tamayo – treads lines between ambient, minimal techno roots, and straight-up minimalism in electronic music. It’s no surprise he’s also a designer; there’s a sense of color and surface taking primacy in his work. But to take his release and set it next to an eclectic set of remixes is to really understand what something otherwise nonsensical like “post-ambient” might mean.
Fax’s original Circles, from April, is full of chilled-out, fuzzy rhythms and static harmonic patterning. Listen to the titular track, but also the dreamy number “The Rain,” as beat machines seem to idle in some relaxed forest glade. Is there such a thing as shoegaze techno?
And then we get to the remixes…
The SEM label releases this whole business via Bandcamp, where it can be had for as little as 5 €; a CD also gets you the remix EP free.
The remix EP is a perfect sampler of where these ideas could lead, an international set of essays on musical possibilities. Contributors include The Sight Below, known for truly ambient productions as thick as the Seattle fog; a great introduction to this producer/multi-instrumentalist’s work is available from his label, Ghostly. That track takes out Fax’s work for a spin in what you might imagine to be a home-built submarine. There’s also Pocket Pet, aka David Last. Last seems to have benefited from taking the disciplined production style he honed in New York out West to a more relaxed life in Denver, and making music for people in the mountains. He explains that in a recent interview. I might paste it to my next pair of airplane tickets and hand it over with my taxes, to explain that a holiday was a business expense for a musician.
David Last’s Pocket Pet [Static Disco]
That’s just to name two; I find the whole release creatively reinvigorating. They join a remix on the original record, Paris-based artist Alexandre Navarro, who takes Brenda Villavicencio’s rich and beautifully-raw vocals and places them in a context that, even with a heavy delay, becomes almost painfully intimate, as enigmatic, dry beats poke around in quizzical asymmetry.
And yes, “post-ambient” or any number of terms is better than IDM. We’re just talking original dance music, each finding its own rules of pattern and style.
Both records I think make perfect listening for a last burst of summery weather in the days before fall. And yes, Mexico, we hope to highlight more music from you soon.