Category: Experimental / Ambient / IDM
Album: Return of the Locust
Blurb: Soothing melodic atmospheres complemented by intricate and glitchy percussive attacks, making for a fine display of ambient IDM.
David Flick has certainly had a busy career; having worked with such acts as Voodou, Pigface, and Dead Voices on Air, as well as his own project with Matt Robison in Asymptote, he has amassed a small but impressive resume of musical output. Since 2010, Vi11AiN has been his primary musical outlet with netlabel Chimera Central, furthering his explorations into experimental software synthesis and touching on various electronic genres. With his latest release, Return of the Locust, Flick strays from the dubstep leanings of his previous album, Dissenter, in favor of a more uniformly rhythmic ambient sound that could compete with the best in the field.
Squelching bleeps and manipulations underscore a looping melodic phrase, forming the base of opening track “Breed” and immediately plunging the listener into an ambient bed of subtle breaks and glitches that recall the likes of Aphex Twin or later era Gridlock. Overall, this formula pervades throughout the album’s six original tracks, with “Mass Assimilation” being an especially enjoyable track for its steadily programmed beats and lounging, almost jazzy pads creating a relaxing effect that brings to mind images of suave playboys in a swank nightclub, one arm wrapped around a beautiful woman, a glass of wine in hand. “Prelude to Infestation” takes a turn toward a darker atmosphere, beginning with a sound evocative of a sonar ping in deep space, oceanic washes of noise gradually rising until a slow breakbeat enters to take the track into a glitchy hip-hop cadence. The beat suddenly shifts pace to create a drum & bass effect as a metallic thrum drives the eerie two-note progression, and before long a series of warbling bass synth takes over for a time, adding tension before slowing back down to allow the listener a brief moment to relax before “Infestation” enters with layers of cosmic sequences building up to an explosive display of frantic drum & bass.
Five remixes comprise the remainder of the album, beginning with Technicolor Yawn’s breakcore treatment of “Bowel Maggots.” While the heavy manipulations of caustic breaks and swirling synthetic malfunctions are quite impressive, the ambient bass that provides a semblance of any harmonic progression is overtaken by the beats that the track comes off more as an exercise in percussive wankery, albeit an energetic one. The same could be said for the Mean Spirited Mirth remix of “Swarm,” whose structure relies on noisy dissonance that on its own is an interesting display of how far a remix can drastically alter an original track, though it’s hardly the most listenable track on the album. Cursed Chimera’s take on the track is much more bearable as the ambient melodies are retained amid the spastic percussive assaults, making for a version more complementary of the original’s softly danceable restraint. The IO remix of “Infestation” begins anxiously with dark pads and distant samples that eventually explode into a blistering jungle loop; the beat stops, allowing the ambience to keep prominence as a slow break and the sound of labored breathing closes the album out.
Return of the Locust is exemplary of all of David Flick’s experimental predilections, balancing the order of structure and melody with the chaos of atmosphere and technical manipulation. A warm production sound is maintained throughout to make the experience easy on the ears and allow every intricate nuance a moment to shine and reveal more with each listen. This writer would not be surprised to find Vi11AiN making its way on the Tympanik Audio label sometime in the foreseeable future. Fans of ambient IDM and any form of rhythmic electronica would do well to give Return of the Locust some attention.
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Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)