Review | Ital Tek | Hollowed


Ital Tek

Hollowed

Planet Mu

bass \ bãs \ adj + tech•no \tek-nõ\ n + chill•out \ chil-aût \ v

The iconic soundtrack that it is, Vangelis' score for Blade Runner is an all-too-easy point of reference when placing electronic musicians, sci-fi and dreamy, cosmic soundscapes side-by-side. At the same time, the announcement of a sequel has led to a good-natured think piece or two postulating who might be best suited to take the mantle and pick up where Vangelis left off. There's no shortage of names worthy of the project, and some (like Cliff Martinez), will no doubt be in the running. We'd like to add one more to this growing list: Ital Tek

To those more familiar with his work, the choice probably seems obvious. Like his labelmate Kuedo, who wears his Vangelis influence proudly in his productions, Alan Myson's work as Ital Tek has carved a steady path from its roots in bass, footwork and the intelligent side of dubstep to become something much less categorical—unless that category is Music for Steely Dystopias. With Hollowed, his latest LP for longtime label Planet Mu, Myson leaves virtually no trace of the genre conventions that still bore their influence as recently as 2013's Control. In their place, he's designed a vibrant, dark universe of dissonant synth tones, eerie electronic breathes, whirring mechanics and, with surprising sparsity, the sunken underpinning of a beat. In other words, music that's cut from the same cloth as Philip K. Dick's imagination. 


Each track on Hollowed conjures images of star cruisers gliding through the frictionless vacuum of deep space and the view from atop some futuristic megastructure, with skyscrapers stretching ever higher against the backdrop of a supersaturated sunset. A track like "Aquamarine" gets at this saturation point, balancing the record's generally dark tone with synths that cascade over the a brooding beat and call to mind the twinkling of neon lights. Early on the record, "Beyond Sight" serves as the soundtrack to an intense opening scene. Like the action that sets the central conflict of the plot in motion, a symphony of synth stuttering punctures the ebb and flow of languid atmospherics, slow burning toward a climax of buzzing bass and staccato boom bap.


Moments like these on Hollowed feel the most like Ital Tek's earlier work, with echoes of low-slung trap beats, maybe a distant nod to something that may have once been played in a club. For the most part, Myson is preoccupied with something altogether different here. He's composing with an abstract and ambient ear to deliver gems like the brooding half-time choral lament "Redeemer" or in one of his more score-like moments "Murmur," which feels particularly suited for the screen as it builds from whispering cellos and a bass pulse to include the syrupy drag and stomp of synths and lonely drum hits before retreating in on itself.


"Jenova" serves as the penultimate act for Hollowed, the resolution from an album defined by a haunting sense of tension. The halftime stomp returns, as does that rapidfire, stuttering synth. As they build up amid the wails of a chorus of ambient voices, they finally give way to a sense of relief, albeit briefly. Where would we be in this day and age without the coda that hints at some conflict to come. Myson brings this vision to life with his post-credit sequence "Vacuum I," a swirling atmospheric finale full of helicopter-blade thumping and the tumultuous near-scream of strings. If we're to read into final notes of Hollowed. , someone or something may have escaped but for now, everything is ok. 

And why shouldn't we? The allure of this style of electronic music is listening to something unknown and alien composed from sounds that feel as though they come to us from some imagined future. Sounds not unlike these were Vangelis' tools as he helped bring Deckard, Roy, Pris and Rachel to life, and the same will be true when Blade Runner returns to the screen in 2018. Will Ital Tek be the composer at the helm? It might be a long shot, but that's ok.  Hollowed is a vision of the future set to sound and that's good enough for us right now.

Ital Tek's Hollowed is out now on Planet Mu Records and available for download from his Bandcamp page. Full album stream is also available below.






 

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