After two tracks of interesting, if fairly straightforward, glitch-heavy electronica, something very interesting happens on Drifting in Silence’s Lifesounds. Out of the middle of the rich ambient wash that kicks of “Rorschach” comes a methodical and distinctly rock-based drumbeat, followed by a heart-grabbing shoegaze-derived melody made of crunchy, rasping guitar. More chords, loud, distorted and forcibly metallic, pile on to form a sonic strata, and the whole thing just turns magnificently catchy. At that stage, Lifesounds distinguishes itself as being more than yet another fast-rhythm electro-pastiche. In fact, I find the disc more interesting when composer Derrick Stembridge isn’t doling out the glitchwork. The lush, half-awake ambient drift at work in “Tremer” is perhaps the best offering here–and the longest, a 10-minute dip into listening bliss. The title track, which closes the disc, is a close cousin to it in feeling. It’s got a real sense of warmth as Stembridge builds a wall of mist around the listener. As good as the more “ambient” tracks are, Stembridge also gets credit for his excellent beatwork on the glitch tracks. He shows a strong hand at pairing the standard rapid-fire sound arsenal against slower-moving backdrops for a superb contrast, as evidenced best by “Fixer.” Here Stembridge cleverly throttles up and down by turns to keep the ride moving and interesting. The racing sequencer runs late in the track are a nice touch, and everything simply fits where it lands. A great track. Another winner here is “Existence,” which drops in piano against the driving electronics along with a hushed ambient flow to up the effectiveness of Stembridge’s sharp pairings.
This is Stembridge’s fifth release as Drifting in Silence, and it makes me wonder what I’ve been missing. I think I may have to go find out.
Available from the Drifting in Silence web site.