Ten albums of technical djent metal can test the patience of even the most bedroom-friendly hermit, so it impressed this reviewer that Misha Mansoor’s ten-series curation of Bulb demos would also include a compilation of synth-heavy electronic music and a symphonic counterpart. We all know Periphery take their influences from far and wide and incorporate many genres into their sound. Guitarist, Jake Bowen, releases regular electronic music as a solo artist and Spencer Sotelo’s Enduur project draws on Michael Jackson and Nine Inch Nails for inspiration. The ability to surprise is one of Misha Mansoor’s greatest assets, but he may be at the limit of his creativity on this latest record.
At only seven songs in length, Electronic feels more like a neglected file on a computer hard drive. You know the one that brings a smile to your face when you think back to its creation. It’s not that the music is bad. ‘Powerpoint Epic’ makes good use of keyboard viola strings with an 808 State beat until the lounge jazz interlude second guesses your IDM instincts. The Aphex Twin/ Boards of Canada ambience on ‘Post Waltz’ captures the glitch and dub bass combination that works so well with this type of music. What a shame it’s only 1.45 minutes in length! Elsewhere, the swishing synth patterns on ‘Purple’ depict the epiphany of the seaside balcony as you watch the tide encroach on the beach head. The sun starts to fade on the horizon as you think back to last night’s euphoria. This is the intelligent dance music of Autechre and Future Sound of London rather than the braindead techno we metalheads despise.
But if ‘Purple’ reminds us of an evening lament overlooking the beach, ‘Horizon’ does the opposite. This is the beach of Magaluf where lager louts and slags dance to abominable trance anthems and happy hardcore beats. The prospect of dodgy Mancunians touting drugs and Essex posers parading their fake tans is more hellish than a black metal fantasy. You’ll find no euphoria here, nor on ‘CDG’, which starts like an Orbital banger but saunters for the remaining five minutes like a homeless beggar memorising his latest sales pitch in the car park.
Fortunately, Misha follows his progressive instincts on ‘Absent’ and gives us an eight-minute journey of vertiginous synths and hallucinogenic patterns without enslaving the music to the primacy of the bass drum. This is more like it. The ambient guitars and hip-hop snares provide a glorious backdrop to a mood that builds into a revelation of self-understanding. More from this side of the electronic spectrum would be most welcome.
Perhaps we put too much expectation on Misha Mansoor. We know Kanye West likes a bit of metal, but would we have high hopes if he turned his hand to a Meshuggah polyrhythm? Probably not. The message here is not ‘stick to what you know.’ Not at all. Music would not evolve, and artists would not innovate without turning their ear to other musical styles.
Misha Mansoor shows once again he is a man of many talents, but, if you want the real thing, you’re better digging out an Orbital or 808 State record to appreciate the finest music in the IDM/acid house canon. And if you think people revile the term ‘djent’, you can guess what dance devotees think of the ‘intelligent dance music’ moniker.
Release Date: 18/10/2020
Record Label: 3Dot Recordings
Standout tracks: Blue, Powerpoint Epic, Absent
Suggested Further Listening: Orbital – Work 1989-2002 (2002), 808 State – Gorgeous (1992), Boards of Canada – Music Has the Right to Children (1997)