My experience with the very experimental music on And…, the new release from Regolith, can best be summed up by admitting that 40 seconds into the second track, I thought my CD player was stuck. This was before it straightened itself out and became something of a Reichian, Glass-like minimalist manifesto of repeated structure. Being taken out of the recording so early made me worry that getting back in wouldn’t be easy. This blend of “avant-garde electronics and orchestral minimalism” will hit home with a more specialized audience–but there are places where it pays off more broadly. That second track, “Happy Summer Days,” turns into an excellent hypnotic stretch of minimalist structure, energetic and strict. The 95-second “In Darkness and Distance” catches my ear with its classical simplicity on strings and piano intertwined with stray curls of electronic noodling. The underlying mechanics of this disc are interesting. Although I hate to quote directly from press releases, Regolith cannibalize their own creations track to track: “…the orchestral parts are sometimes made out of the pitches and rhythms of the electronics, and the processed parts are sometimes created out of the orchestral sounds.” To the listener’s ears it means two things: a well-wrought mix of acoustic and electronic, and an ongoing challenge. And… is only 43 minutes long, and the closing track takes up 16 minutes of that. There are sizable patches where the difficulty of finding something to latch onto in the chaotic swirl can outweigh the appeal of the intriguing intent and construction. But then you wrap your head something like that closing track, “The Way Out,” and its Glass-inspired familiarity keeps a strong hold on you. There’s a turn at roughly the midpoint that comes as an excellent surprise and shows that Regolith aren’t just copycaty minimalists. Listening to And… will be a roll of the dice for many. There are brilliant passages, and there are moments that just baffle. But it’s decidedly worth taking a run at.
Available from Runningonair.