AMETSUB – The Nothings of the North
Mille Plateaux (2010)
Inspired by his trip to Iceland this is the second release for Ametsub and one of the first for the newly launched Mille Plateaux record label.
From this album one gets a sense that Ametsub had a nice time in Iceland; he watched water dripping off icicles, travelled past alpine forests in wonderment, never strayed above the speed limit, politely talked to bespectacled fashion students in thickly woven jumpers, and went to bed early after drinking moderately. But I'm left wondering where the inspiration is here, listening to the album if there was a revelation in the North I’m not quite sure what it was.
This is by no means a bad album and playing The Nothings of the North end-to-end you get a palpable sense of musical skill, though what we are being offered here is more a highly accomplished culmination of influences than a unique or particularly personal artistic statement.
The album is in itself coherent, superbly polished and perfectly formed, everything works here and for a new release on the iconic label it is a promising start. Seemingly taking the best bits of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works, melodic inspiration from Kid A by Radiohead and adding rhythmic glitches the result is a very sweet slice of electronica. What I miss though, is the daring.
In standout tracks like the retro-esque Time for Trees, the noisy and resplendent 66 and forward looking Old Obscurity the album rises above itself and what has become the vanilla nature of Scandinavian referencing electronica. Artists like Röyksopp have paved this road before and my main criticism with the album is in it's tendency towards the anodyne. A personal taste still yearning for the head rush halcyon days of earlier electronica one feels that overall the album doesn’t take many chances. However it is definitely worth a listen and will most likely become unavoidable as the appeal of this record is successfully mainstream.
The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. – Aristotle