In our ever-so-digital age it’s not uncommon for artists to wade into their back catalog to dust off old tracks, throw them back into the computer to clean them up, then present them anew, This is what the duo Integral (David Rotter and Rafael Milatz) did as a follow-up to their debut, Rise. In fact, they hauled two discs’ worth of old material out of the closet for The Past Is My Shadow. When I reviewed Rise, I called the duo out for not doing much to cast off the standard-issue glitch mold. On The Past…, the offerings are more diverse–which they should be, given the amount of stuff here–while still grounding themselves in the cut-and-stitch model. For example, they slow things down on “CPU Fairy Tale,” laying in a borderline New Age keyboard melody over the glitchy stuff, but poke at it with a resounding steel-press percussion hit. “Pop Realta” churns with a solid Middle-Eastern vibe, the backdrop made from wavering heat-shimmer lines. On “Gitarsis,” a Spanish guitar sings its way through an onslaught of electro-sound, its beautiful steadiness offering a perfect counterpoint to the chaos. My favorite track here is “Synthie Raga,” a smooth cross-breeding of smoky dub, hand percussion, and guitar–and, of course, synth. This one just glides its way past, oozing cool from every moment.
I don’t know what possessed Rotter and Milatz to hold these pieces back and instead start off with the (I’m sorry to say) lesser work on Rise; listening to The Past Is My Shadow gives me a refreshed and indeed stronger impression of what they offer. There’s great diversity at play here, and the range is the strength of the release. Rather than another hefty dose of overdone glitch, Integral spread out, play with their ideas, and make them all work.
Available from Tympanik Audio.