1991 – ‘1991’ (Astro:Dynamics)

Swedish experimentalist and bohemian beat breaker, Axel Backman, this week released his first, self-titled, EP under the pseudonym 1991. Having recently gained praise from the likes of Vessel, Lukid and Samoyed, this release ensured a promising output from the young Gothenburgian.

Backman’s latest escapade, following on from the ambient ‘High-Tech High Life’, delves into the distorted world of tape fixes and dynamic synth waveforms. ‘1991’ combines an ethereal mix of arpeggio stricken chords and panning resonance, illustrating an immersive arrangement, unimposing to the point of settling into the background. It is refreshing listening to an album, in its entirety, which actually allows you to hit play and sit back.

It’s frequently the case that an artist will try to appeal to both club and home environments, so often the very nature of an electronic album rarely allows for much continuity. Axel has however produced something that, in my eyes, appeals largely to the solo listener, creating an almost seamless succession of tracks that are, to some extent, barely distinguishable from each other. This level of coherence is, however, ‘interrupted’ at points by a couple of the more distinctly structured tracks on the album, the first of these being ‘Open to the Dark’; made available on Soundcloud earlier in the year, a somewhat emotive interpretation of what a typically melancholy 80’s new romantic tune might have sounded like through an old car stereo.

The second comes in the form of ‘Reborn Ice Horn’, a well crafted, well-integrated remix of the opening track, coming from fellow Swedish producer Ond Ton. The rest of the album is composed largely to revolve around a core concept of ascending and descending chords, backed habitually by a fizzing distortion throughout. This is most noticeable in both ‘Tangerine Lidl’ – a calming, almost aquatic piece that I found to be as relaxing as an evening in with Attenborough. And ‘Distortion of Time’, which in contrast, explores the other end of the spectrum, encapsulating a particularly eerie blend of bass drum and violin synth.

Overall, I found the album to be unexpectedly captivating. Admittedly, there is a certain lack of venture compared to other albums of a similar complexion, however, that does to an extent make the album what it is, an unashamedly simple collection of ambient melodies, interesting filters and effects that, presumably, emulate the artists interests and taste. ‘1991’ has definitely copped a spot on my ‘train journey’ playlist.

Will Edge

‘1991’ is released on digital download or limited edition 8-track cassette via Astro:Dynamics on 1st October.

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