Headphone Science - We Remain Faded
After a number of successful web releases with No Type, Subverseco, and Observatory, Dustin Craig has released his first CD under the name of Headphone Science. Cleaving closely to the two pieces of his name, Craig delivers six tracks of vocal cut-up flavored IDM that will fill your headphones nicely.
"We Remain Faded" is propelled along by a solid kick drum beat. Colored by thin shards of digital noise, the track washes over you with restful melodies that harkens back to Amber-era Autechre. If this is Craig's nod to what has gone before, it is a very solid nod and well worth the price of admission for this eight-minute slice of blissful chilled ambience. "Air Bubble Material" is also chillout room material, colored with a little sharper tempo and the inclusion of droning cellos and sprightly plucked violins to the click and skitter of the digital beats.
"Games" finds Craig leaping forward to the more current phenomena of throwing cut-up hip-hop vocals into the mix. Like Amon Tobin and Prefuse 73, Craig slices and dices the vocal track over his beats and melodies, dropping his ADD-addled scat singer onto an otherwise laidback IDM track. Cut-up vocals populate the most of the remaining tracks on We Remain Faded, adding a certain amount of grit to an otherwise pristine electro-beat environment. Beats squelch and skitter, melodies caper and slink, and hip-hop voices are Ginsu'ed with gleeful abandon. The technique adds a human element (albeit a scattered and fragmented one) to an otherwise digital landscape. The closer "Life Struggles Constant" fuses the Autechre ambience of the beginning with the precise beats and echo-driven and cut-up vocals of the middle tracks into a thoroughly successful summation of what Headphone Science has to offer.
But just prior this closing statement, we have "To Dine in Distance" which, like "We Remain Faded," pulls out all the stops. While the rest of the tracks on the record are solid players in the IDM field, these two tracks really make the record shine. "To Dine in Distance" is like the lost track from DJ Krush and Toshinori Kondo's sublime Ki - Oku, filled with sharp beats and a lonely trumpet melody. Craig applies the same backmask and cut-up methodology to the trumpet line that he uses on the hip-hop vocals in the previous tracks. Tack on a lazy Spanish guitar player and a stolen conversation between distant lovers and we've got a solid winner on our hands.
Apparently Craig has a full-length release planned for later this year on Vienna-based Skylab Operations. You know I'll be Googling up their site later tonight and bookmarking their shopping cart for the record's eventual release. Craig's work as Headphone Science is very good and We Remain Faded shows a deft hand that is worth adding to your collection.
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