Tehnoloogiline Paike – Technological Sun (Fantastic Planet) CD REVIEW

TP_12inchspinesleeve_633x349_5mm.aiTHE ALBUM TITLE Technological Sun is the English translation of this Estonian experimental electronic trio’s band name. With the music recorded entirely on analogue instruments, the opener ‘This Means War’ shows much promise for what’s to come with a combination of electronic and some at least acoustic-sounding instrumentation. Both the tuned and pitchless percussion sound real but I’m not so sure about the pan pipes.

But that would be of concern to only the most pedantic listener. The track appears to be a series of variations on a simple theme, the most interesting of which is the introduction which plays abstractly with the theme which does not declare itself proper until one minute in. The remaining variations, not radically transformed, simply identify themselves through tempo-change and ongoing additional instrumentation not unlike that of Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’, but minus the aural impact of that landmark, unfortunately.

TP_Evar_MihkelNext is the more harmonically substantial ‘Breaking It’ – which comes on like a tasty cross between Squarepusher and French synth pioneers, Justice. But the following ‘So Many Days’ brought me the first
hiccup. The singing at times on the edge of tunefulness was compounded by the use of English which seemed stilted and forced. Estonia’s native tongue, or even the country’s second language of Russian might’ve
produced vocals more authentic and flowing. Perhaps an Estonian version exists, but it goes without saying that English would potentially broaden an audience and its use is understandable – no pun intended. Anyway,
this was all alleviated on the following ‘If I Just Die’ by vocalist Hannaliisa Uusma (of Estonian pop group HU), whose silky calming voice is akin to the aural equivalent of an opening lotus.

The sound quality over-all is rich and satisfying, but the composition lacks substance and is often reliant on repetition within a kind of quasi-minimalism. Minimalism does not have to mean lack of invention, as a cursory listen to almost any Philip Glass piece will attest to. But the heart is in the right place here. The strengths of Technological Sun lie in its first three tracks, but the remainder merge like a zip into a climate over-populated by queues of chameleons lining up for their chance to shine in the tehnoloogiline paike. PETER KEARNS

Sound =3.5/5

Music = 3/5

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