Sunday 30 May 2021

The Allegorist - The Third Album: Hybrid Dimension II

I always look forward to releases by The Allegorist, and Anna's third album 'Hybrid Dimension IIcontinues the 'slow building' style of her previous releases, but this time the production value in the sophisticated mix of ambient, classical and electronica has jumped up several notches. This is all the more remarkable because when I first heard her work at an Ableton Loop in Berlin a few years ago, it was already stand-out, drop-dead, slack-jaw perfection. You could kind of tell it was exceptionally good, because Mandy Parnell simply didn't know what to say for several minutes after hearing it. 

The cover of 'Hybrid Dimension II'

There's a huge amount of finesse exhibited in this third album. The opening track has a drone that is gradually replaced by vocals in the invented 'Mondoneoh' language, and it's like an overture to set the scene for the whole album. But the vocals don't just fade in as you might expect - instead the drone's timbre gradually morphs into the vocals, rather like a curtain drawing open and letting higher and higher frequencies out. And this masterful slow building of almost visual soundscapes just continues in the rest of the album - this isn't your standard 'ambient' washes merely produced by using lots of echo and reverb. It is more like one of those 'continuous zoom' videos, where you keep diving deeper and deeper through breath-taking vista after glorious vista. And the blending is seamless, all the way down...

There's a huge variety of vocal, sample and synth timbres, and they aren't static. They wash over each other, like waves crashing on a beach, evolving and slowly changing... It is stories told in music on a grand scale. There's a host of superb pad sounds to die for, and the changes just keep going - just as you start thinking: 'that's a nice pad', then it has already changed into something else equally gorgeous but different, and it just keeps going. There are multiple techniques that are used to transform from one sound to another, and just as you think you have one figured out, along comes another one that does it differently. A sound designer's or synthesist's or producer's cornucopia of riches... Listen and weep.

Amazing. Immersive and confident. I wish I could make electronic music half this good.

I struggle for analogies, but if you go back over 40 years to Jean-Michel Jarre's seminal 'Oxygene', and replace the organ sounds processed by twin EHX 'Small Stone' phasers and VCS3 doodlings with modern sampling, synthesis and vocal processing and production techniques, and you change the genre to 'Ambient crossed with Classical crossed with Electronica', then you start to get a feel for just how much this connects to the very deepest part of me. Or maybe a more modern angle would be The Flashbulb... 

Recommended. Oh wow, is this recommended!


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