Brainchops :: Phe_ - Phe_ (2011) :: Review

Phe_ - Phe_ (2011) :: Review

Thursday, March 3, 2011

[Recycled Plastics :: 2011]

Charity Album on brand-new electronic music label features remixes by Wisp, Mrs Jynx, EOD, and others to raise money for artist's beloved cat's chemotherapy treatments

I think most of us know what it feels like to love or become deeply attached to a living companion, whether it be a cat, a dog, or any other kind of pet, which is why it's easy to understand the idea of doing anything it takes to make sure they stay happy and healthy, even if it means going into debt due to extensive vet and hospital bills. Prolific electronic artist Brian Grainger known for his diverse contributions to the electronic music community under a slew of monikers including Milieu, Coppice Halifax, Bike, TMA3, and now Phe_, shares this sentiment and is currently fast running out of money while doing what he can to help his cat Basil beat cancer.  You can help a brother out by donating directly to Basil's Chemo Fund or by purchasing his new self-titled debut album as Phe_, 100% of which also goes toward paying for Basil's treatments. A good cause isn't the only reason to pick this album up however, as the music itself is skillful, heartfelt, and done in a classic bedroom-produced IDM style that has been missing in action lately.  Oh, and you get new Wisp (Rephlex), Mrs Jynx (Planet Mu), and EOD (030303).

This promising inaugural release for new imprint Recycled Plastics features 40 minutes of original ambient / braindance-lite material paired with 40 minutes of remixes by the artists previously mentioned as well as Night Sequels (Attacknine), David Tagg (Install), Casio Commander and Simon Meredith, all compassionately provided with Basil (featured on the album's cover) in mind.  I use the term braindance-lite because of the album's mellow, downtempo nature but foot-tapping beats and layered melodies are definitely present throughout, reminiscent of the early Warp days.  It starts off with "A Bassinet", a slow paced piece with a delicately applied deep techno feel and lots of delay echoed synths.  Though the theme is repetitive, it's an enjoyable one and sets a pensive but hopeful mood that leads into a more upbeat track 2.  Playful basslines iced with emotional synths and atmospheric reverb are to follow, while strange and beautiful interweaving melodies lead you through the next couple of tracks.  "Slidden Antichoir" takes a slight detour into sharper, robotic electro territory which sounds slightly out of place, but actually serves as a refreshing change-up and further flavors the whole assortment.

basil"Green Minor" is the standout here, and looking at the list of remixes, I'm incidentally not the only one who thinks so.  Melancholic pads press out a revolving chord progression that goes from being haunting to comforting from moment to moment as a relaxed 808-style kick pulses softly behind it. At about 2 minutes in, just as you're about to be completely overtaken by the track's thick, slow-moving fog, airy hi-hats start to pop up around you and a sudden bass drop submerges you completely.  Wisp molds this piece into something a little faster and dancier, even adding his own fun melody lines over the top while EOD's unexpectedly darker approach focuses more on the track's bottom end, taking it even deeper and eerier with metallic harmonics and erratic rolling clicks.  All of the remixes are quality, including pronounced cat-enthusiast Mrs Jynx's lovely rework of "Opal Trace".

This is the kind of music that seeps into your subconscious and grabs hold.  Being presented as a braindance album I was hoping for some harder hitting beats, but its underlying beauty and subtle complexity make it a gentle force to be reckoned with.

Buy Phe_ MP3 album or CD-R Limited to 100 Copies :: Bandcamp | Basil's Chemo Fund

Connect with Phe_ via Recycled Plastics :: Official Site | Facebook


Anonymous said...

Nice! One! cheers G

Anonymous said...

A bassinet is great. So simple but very effective. The clap is initially a bit low , but its easily forgiven because of that rhodes-like synth. Brilliantly tactile melodies and i love the less is more approach and the delay-play.
Love that futuretek feel in slidden antichoir. Love the bass synth. Green minor reminds of Paris Greys " Dont lead me ". Amazing atmosphere and I'm a sucker for 5th's ever since the inner city days when detroit techno became a little more commercialised.. The groove is like the gentle yet relentless ticking of a swiss timepiece , quietly threatening with a protracted kinda malice , and Wisp takes that and takes me back to those staple classics in my collection such as octave one , mayday , model 500 et al.
Really nice collection this. I like my electronica stirred not shaken , and with a healthy dos of imagination and some ice , and my ears were served a great mix.

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