Audioroom: Seismograph (Arbouse Recordings, 2004)
Sometimes I think that we at Somewhere Cold are the luckiest people in the music world. It seems that great, small labels come to us to write about their music. Well, Arbouse Recordings is no different. Along with Asthmatic Kitty, Words on Music and Clairecords, this is becoming one of my favorite labels with the two releases I have been sent. The first of those releases is by a band called Audioroom. Hailing from France, Audioroom is a minimalist, electronic group that uses build in their music masterfully. The palate with which they construct their songs is large, consisting primarily of bleeps, clicks, whirls and keys. Though many of their instruments are cold and non-organic, on Seismograph, Audioroom is able to communicate emotion and a sense of personality that seems very organic.
“A Toy in the Head” begins with light strings and with soft blips and whirls in the background. What Audioroom does best is really represented in this first track and continues through the entirety of their disk: make a song build. It is apparent from the first track that this band wishes to lead their listener through a cavalcade of sounds by mounting them one on top of the other through slow and brilliant execution. “Toy” evokes playfulness and sincerity amidst its non-organic tones. “Organic Day” starts off with a loud noise, not unlike a car starting and floats off into another universe. Here, the percussive sounds play a prominent role while piano plays softly in the background. The tension is beautiful. I think that, even though the sounds are definitely electronic in nature, the organic mood of the piece, evoked by the piano, really makes sense of the track’s name. Perhaps, some sort of melancholy mishap has happened to the writer of this song, with its minor chords and soft mood. “Ripple Mark” begins with synthetic bass, blips and clicks. What is amazing about this band is that they are able to take what seem to be random noises and really use them to evoke a feeling in the song, hence, making them not so random. The subtleness of this tracks has an almost eastern feel to it. This is a short piece that has perfect timing and ends at that perfect time, making the listener want more.
“Platform” has layered keyboards that have a sort of Depeche Mode feel ala Music for the Masses era. The melody of this song is very catchy and is laced with touches of sampled voice and small variations in the key sounds and melody. By the end of the track, things become complexly layered and then, in the bridge, all the keys drop out and leave the bleeps and clicks to give the listener a break. The melody from the keys re-enters the song slowly building once again. If anything, I would describe this song as beautiful, peaceful and a concrete example of Audioroom‘s ability to use their building capabilities to bring variety to what would otherwise be a repetitive song. “Shishashadow” begins with deep bass and claps sprinkled with tear drop sounds in the percussion. A back beat eventually comes in with subtle keys moving into the mix. This song has a mysterious tone to it and evokes a
sort of “spy” theme, with all its darkness.
“Cosmogony” begins with sounds akin to a child’s play-toy. For me, it recalls innocence and trust. Light percussion is in the mix and it seems to be a overwhelmingly percussive type song. Even though the tones and intricacy of the song do not change much in its progression, Audioroom plays a lot with the speed of the song, really varying tempo while throwing in little elements to change things up a bit. “L’erosion des Contours” is a long song with wide soundscapes. In many ways, this track is a mixture of their most experimental material along with their most mainstream sounding melodies. The mix is
gratifying and eclectic. “Mineral Substance” is a bold track with low tones and minor chords. This song also is akin to early Depeche Mode, perhaps due to the synth sounds Audioroom has chose, but also for the tempo and mixture of the sounds. What really makes it unique is the ghost like sounds mixed into the low tones and eventually the back beat that comes into the mix. “Coincidence” has a lumbering cadence that is subtle and distinct. The track really “walks” the reader out of the world of Audioroom and reminds the listener of the journey on which they have been.
Audioroom is subtle, beautiful, and surprisingly organic in spite of the clicks and whirls. The ability of Audioroom to control tempo, build and sound texture is brilliant and amazing.