This album has quickly become an absolute favorite of mine and I’ve been aching to tell everyone about it. The music breathes a strange dreamy atmosphere where the subconsciously familiar blends with startling newness, the entire production emerging from the half-recalled miasma of memory. In other words, it feels profoundly new while evoking my own past.
Scenes (2012-2015) is an unassuming giant, one of the most important albums of 2016 so far and I feel like its stature is only going to grow as people like me spread the word.
The name Studio OST grants an air of anonymity, and the album title gives the impression of an anthology. But this is a tightly crafted set of intricate, intelligent techno experiments that sounds as cohesive as anything made in a single session. Appropriate to the album title, it’s the product of a series of recordings between Galcher Lustwerk and Alvin Aronson, the former of which runs Lustwerk Music, based in New York.
There’s a jazzy fluidity of structure here, an adventurous lean into spaced out sounds from the Oneohtrix Point Never corner of the music world, and a mournful UFO vibe that, like a lot of my favorite music recently, reminds me of the early pioneering Warp Records days.
Throughout the album, an ocean of techno and deep house waves mingle with the frayed edges of experimental drone tones, bent broadcast frequencies, and destroyed synth lines. The only signposts of direct human contact arrive in the form of deeply modulated vocal samples, appearing like faces in clouds before drifting away. In moments of startling clarity, tight drum programming and slick bass lines rumble through the mix, granting the whole experience a sharper, more tactile feel than other albums playing in the psychedelic outer limits of techno.
I find myself grasping for comparisons and coming away empty handed. Perhaps the only connection I could draw points toward the gritty hallucinations of Actress, one of the finest electronic composers working today. His work, I should note, has regularly appeared near the top of my yearly music lists, notably the Best of 2014.
The album ends up feeling more grounded, focused in rhythm thanks to the playful bounce between the two artists. While it’s not exactly a jam session, there’s an ingrained feeling of spontaneity at play. Always hurtling forward on a sense of limitless freedom, the nine songs here never outstay their welcome or seem particularly rushed to get where they’re going. It’s the kind of album meant for looping on repeat, just to spend more time inside these little worlds. Eventually the structures dissolve and only the immediacy of sublime texture remains.
If you experience techno as an environment to sink into rather than a narrative to follow, it could be one of the most perfect releases in a long time. It sure is for me.
Here’s the full album streaming: