Friday, May 25, 2007

Rubens Review In Cyclic Defrost Magazine

Carnivalesque is the first CD release for the Herb Recordings label and the debut album from Scottish duo Rubens. The dominant sounds are those of analogue synth washes under a surprising variety of traditional yet well crafted rhythm patterns. Rubens are building on mid 90s IDM roots but adding their own touches, sometimes in the form of manipulated acoustic guitar and drums, often just in the subtle processing of electronic sources.

The tracks can sometimes meander a little, particularly earlier in the album. But by mid way through, when they hit on a bittersweet cyclical chord structure in ‘Ferris Wheel’, it all comes together and easily holds attention for an epic 10 minutes. From there the album maintains this high standard, staying melodically tighter over sly chord patterns, while keeping a creative attention to detail. A dominance of downbeat tracks in the second half of the album sees the duo working to their strengths, where their melancholy moods can grow and tiny individual sounds are given the space to breathe. The album really does get better as it progresses.

While an initial listen left me thinking this album was a little pristine, on closer inspection, particularly with the aid of headphones, the subtlety of the processing and a little bit of grit became apparent and it has since grown on me considerably. Carnivalesque is not an album that reaches out and grabs you, but it’s well worth spending the time to let it’s subtleties sink in and take hold. It’s those nuances which pull the pieces together into a good album.

Adrian Elmer


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