THE SEVEN FIELDS OF APHELION – Periphery (2010)

So there’s this band called Black Moth Super Rainbow. And they’re weird (as if you couldn’t tell that from their name, right?). Anyways, they play sort of a fuzzy, psychedelic pop that’s big on beats, constructed entirely out of sounds from the past: vocoders, mellotrons, and retro, analog synths of all kinds. Now, the ringleader of this ensemble goes by the name of Tobacco, and he released a solo album in 2008 called Fucked Up Friends – it had the same weirdly cozy feel of Black Moth, but it leaned more towards hip-hop in its construction (indeed, the album’s best song, Dirt featured Aesop Rock, perhaps the most playful MC in the hip-hop underground today; the pairing was, as you can imagine, perfect). So, now it seems like Black Moth keyboardist, The Seven Fields of Aphelion (not sure of her real name), has stepped out on her own to release a solo album, and unlike Tobacco’s Fucked Up Friends, Periphery is strikingly different from Black Moth.

The first thing that came to mind as I started Periphery was Eluvium. See, just like Matthew Cooper, The Seven Fields of Aphelion has
a deep affinity for tape loops and piano; though unlike Cooper (whose most significant piano work was 2004’s An Accidental Memory In The Case Of Death, which featured only piano compositions), Seven Fields likes to fracture and loop back her piano on itself, creating effects that are sometimes eerily beautiful. The opening song, Slow Subtraction is a great example; the main melody dances about itself, delayed, reversed and twisted back to the start again, like a musical möbius strip. Lake Feet, while not quite as intense as Slow Subtraction in terms of manipulation, builds itself up, with layer upon layer and then stripping them away until they all but disappear. But Seven Fields doesn’t just use piano here; she makes great use of other keyboards as well, and the results are equally enjoyable. The album’s best song, Saturation: Arrhythmia starts off fairly simply before morphing into a constant flutter of electronic keyboard mayhem; the song slips in and out of key, before finally righting itself again near the end, and receding down to nothing.

If you’re a fan of ambient music, I’d highly recommend this to you, but if you’re a Black Moth fan, I’d say steer clear. Periphery is way less bombastic and far more insular than Seven Fields’ parent band. If you’ve ever wondered what Matthew Cooper mixed with some Casio keyboards might sound like, Periphery is it. Turns out, the two go together better than you may have imagined.

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One Response to “THE SEVEN FIELDS OF APHELION – Periphery (2010)”

  1. […] a thing is rare in ambient music. Though I certainly enjoyed The Seven Fields of Aphelion’s debut, I would recommend Similes over it, […]

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