♫♪  Ricardo Donoso - “Dance of Attunement”

Part of the pleasure of following the catalogs of the true heads of the electronic underground is watching how individual minds evolve over a series of releases. Certain decisions about instrumentation, compositional structure, or rhythm might thread through an artist’s work like a lifeline, from the earliest recordings to the present day — while new timbres or creative processes gradually slide into view. What might seem tangential in the context of a previous album might come to occupy the epicenter of the next.

Rarely has such a process of observed evolution yielded so many relevatory releases at such a prolific rate as in the catalog of Ricardo Donoso. The restless multi-instrumentalist/producer defined his twilit technoid aesthetic with a number of minimal masterworks on the Digitalis label, including the early benchmark Assimilating the Shadow — whose percolating spreads of percussion-less synth sequences and intertwined melodies led us up into that threshold zone between introspection and body-shaking. On subsequent soundtrack releases like A Song for Echo (on his own Kathexis imprint) and Saravá Exu (on Denovali), Donoso pared down his focus on extended groove and melody in favor of tightly paced cinematic fields of sound populated with rushes of pure droning texture and atmospheric noise. These albums function as electronic beat music in their busier moments, but Donoso’s approach to the idiom refracted through the wide open spaces and interludes necessary to accompany his visual source material.

If Donoso’s upcoming Machine to Machine LP (due July 31 on Denovali) marks a return to more compartmentalized “songwriting,” as conveyed by its recursive song structures and its long stretches of gorgeous melodicism, the album distills strategies from his soundtrack work into some of his most complex hybridized compositions to date. Follow “Dance of Attunement,” our first preview of the album, from its intro of glistening synth pads straight up to the onset of chiming lead voices akin to glockenspiels and music boxes. The chord progression unfolds over bits of rhythmic activity that pop up in all corners of the stereo spread, congealing across the full mix into a lattice of interlaced melodies that fits nicely alongside the more baroque moments of Alex Menzies’s recent Kathexis gem Order and Disorder. With no overt beats to build over, the “Dance of Attunement” plays out like the spectral afterimage of a ballet performance as it lingers in clouds of vapor in an empty studio.

• Ricardo Donoso: http://www.ricardodonoso.com
• Denovali: http://www.denovali.com

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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