Aleph Zero has had a busy year, with releases of Bluetech, Unoccupied and the compilation Natural Born Chillers 2 (still one of my favourites this year) under their belt in 2009. Their consistent output of quality has set an example which only few labels have managed to follow. The potential to make a misstep is however always there. The daring move to take onboard a relatively unknown artist and host his debut album is commendable, but it remains to be seen whether Fredrik Öhr can live up to the immense quality of Aleph Zero’s back catalogue.
A crossbreed between 80’s synthpop, new age, lounge, glitch, idm, jazz, ambient and psychedelics, Falling through the Earth almost defies description. What jumps at you is its remarkable story telling quality. The different compositions have their own identity, which reveal a wholly different landscape from one song to the next. From slowly meandering vocal revelations reminding me of lazy summer days to instrumental sunrises, warmth is the best word to describe what you can expect from this special release. What becomes apparent is the freedom in instrumentalization and structure entertained throughout the album. Acoustical elements hold hands with digitally concocted sounds, occasionally with some vocal elements sprinkled over the mix. The result is something remarkable, and one of the more prolific and boundary-shattering releases of recent times.
This is by no means a ‘simple’ album. While it is readily accessible, the depth and breath of sounds is at times overwhelming in its sparsity. The elegance with which sound is manipulated and pushed forward is remarkable, and at times reminds me of Bluetech’s earlier work. Naaga is a lovely example of how complexity is reached through relative simplicity. Micro structures morph and are driven on by a flute playing a lament over the top-end. This flute repeatedly makes an appearance in other tracks throughout the album, but never becomes obtrusive. Consider it your guide through the different landscapes on this exquisite journey.