[To be posted soon to the Hypnagogue site]
Kudos to Ben Fleury-Steiner at Gears of Sand for consistently finding superb new artists. This time around it’s Con_Sense with Compass—a rich, deep work that seamlessly melds dark ambient textures with irresistible beats for a fully immersive listening experience. The disk begins with the sinewy electronic slither of “Threshold,” a thick undergrowth of drums and jumbled sounds punctuated with sudden balalaika-like bursts. “Tarika” ups the beat ante with a mechanical clank-and-throb over the rise and fall of ghostly vocals, and begins a gentle Middle-Eastern vibe that carries into the wailing voices and percussive atmosphere of “Gathering From Step Beyond.” From there, “Structures” insinuates itself quietly with a jazzy downtempo beat and hushed tones like half-heard secrets. The fantastically hypnotic “La-U-Tir” charges in next powered by a driving beat and a barrage of electro-birthed sounds. Halfway through the percussion drops away suddenly, and it’s like a reprieve, however temporary, from a forcible groove. This is the pure highlight of the disk. The lengthy drone of “Sirius” then moves in slowly, a welcome sonic balm that calms like a long, soul-felt exhalation. An easy beat rises to complement the quiet base without disturbing the relaxed feel it’s imparted. This is a beautifully meditative stretch, time well spent inside the sound. Then it’s back into high gear with the potent bass twang and long-hanging pads of “Compass Error” as they swirl upward in an ever-more-complex spiral of sound. The disk closes with “Starry Sky,” replete with appropriately twittering, glistening sequencer lines. This is a disk that will most certainly get a lot of repeat play, and offers enough depth and layering of sound to reward subsequent listens. Have I gushed about Compass enough yet? Clearly, this is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD.