Definably, Ekoplekz (Nick Edwards)’s Unfidelity is an undressing of deeply coded and textural music. Immediately comical in its shape and in its design, the record is full of damp-sounding instrumentation and dry knock-kneed drum patterns. Grotesque to the point of the melodic lines seeming to sloppily slip off of the rhythmic bone, Unfidelity oozes a sound that recalls strange combinations of hopeful and dystopian comic book environments, an image that, reinforced by the cover art, seems to parody or at least embody the very idea of the album’s parts.
Compositionally, Unfidelity takes a lot from artists like Dopplereffekt, whose own sound employed scientific and biomechanical ideas and soundscapes with a decided serious face. Songs like “Scientist” implied that Dopplereffekt’s music existed in the same progress-oriented realm of science, the track’s voice over acting as an overlayed manifesto of intent. Within “Scientist,” Dopplereffekt pairs the image of a scientist with classic sci-fi laboratory bleeps and bloops: incredulous machinery performing unknowable acts. Taking the concept of a mad scientist at work, Ekoplekz pushes the aesthetic into motion by building an album that encompasses the environment of the mad scientist but not the defining voice over, leaving the listener cold in the midst of disgruntled and sometimes not at all computerized sounds.
Opener “Trace Elements” explores the messy half-electronic, half-organic record with a throbbing bass line that places Pye Corner Audio-like vintage synth swipes alongside a galloping drum machine rhythm. The minimalist mechanisms of dub techno and grid-based structures of Krautrock are applied with force to ground Edward’s typically parched output. The application of the grid is seen at its best in the latter half of the record with “Tuning Out,” which may be the most gorgeous song Ekoplekz has thus far composed. Built from pressurized low-end, submerged percussion act as a sort of guide for a searing, sun-soaked melody through the fog of aquatic FX that galvanize the entirety of headphone space. The track, pushing through its six-minute runtime, eventually dissolves into a bubbling mass.
The hilarity and distance of the image — of a maniacal scientist scheming behind walls of computing hardware alongside mutant realist cartoons — are extended when considering the record’s label home. The press speaks animatedly about Ekoplekz’s adoption of the label’s internet-oriented synth explorations. In embodying Planet Mu’s sound, Unfidelity comes off as Ekoplekz looking skyward, bringing the netscape-coated sunlight into his murky depths. This in turn shows Ekoplekz to have a surprising strength for beauty and melodic development. Normally seen driving his hardware into the ground, here Ekoplekz is streamlining expanding.