Abysmal - Resurrection (Matter Of Time Records, 2021)
After wowing us for the past few years under the Nørus moniker, Brazilian producer Felipe Bortoloti brings in the new year with a brand new imprint and alias, with the music found within testament to the man's sublime vision and excellent compositional abilities.
There's nothing that a new strain of musical expression can't solve in the creative application department, and for many years now artists have looked to capitalise on this notion via the creation of new aliases in order to expand their audial universe. The concept of aliases became a significant deal within the 90s, where many producers were keen to capitalise on all the morphology that occurred around them via the introductions of new names that revolved around their core sound but were able to showcase new sides to their sound. In many ways we got to know artists all over again via these new projects, which often bought in elements of their original discographies and injected them into new tonal atmospheres, where the style helped to dictate what could be placed and what might be left behind. It helped to bind listeners deeper into their many shades of musical endeavours, allowing for multiple dips to occur within their musical universe all of which serve to expand our minds on so many levels. As a tool in which to put out there all kinds of musical styles and feels, it is a very adaptable way of creatively navigating an artist's interests and intrigues, with the swerves between genres and tones working very well when the person behind it all is able to craft bonds between these differing lines of inquiry. The 90s would see countless producers releasing music under sometimes enormous lists of aliases, all of which saw so much evolution in sound and style that to go through just one producer's universe of names is a musical journey through the ages, as we pick up on all the little intricacies and interactions that made that producer such a stand out in the first place. In the contemporary age, exploring new mediums through varying monikers is no different, with many producers looking to broaden their horizon lines via the usage of new discographies that sit alongside their existing work, and it just makes their narrative that little bit more intriguing as a result. You see house producers craft ambient jungle leaning records, you see techno producers crafting playful IDM, you find UK Bass and broken Techno DJs making the most beautiful emotive music you could ever wish to listen to, and that's just scratching the surface of it all, with so many other stories out there finding new labels and space to be named and inhabited. It's the kind of leaps forward that help to broaden the horizons of music in general, with these stories ones that craft enriching feels and movements through time and space in order to arrive at new places that feel familiar yet somewhat new at the same time. The manner in which artists blend certain tones within these new strands of expressionism is always a joy to get to know, as we feel very much a part of these interconnected discographies that operate on numerous levels in order to give us the musical nourishment we so desperately crave. The excitement over these new projects is one thing, but finding out how these projects go from beginning to end is always a delight to the senses, our minds switching over from what we know and come to expect and moving into a new space designed to expand our horizons and expectations, and that in itself is a wonderful thing indeed.
One producer who is making the first steps on the journey to creating a plethora of intriguing aliases is Brazilian artist Felipe Bortoloti, who for the past few years has released some fine music under the Nørus name, but now turns his attentions to a new project, Abysmal. Currently based in San Paolo, Bortoloti was a member of a number of bands growing up, with these passions spilling over into the foundation of Yellow Island Records alongside his friend Flavio, which has grown from strength to strength in recent years. Delivering a highly refined take on House, Techno and pretty much everything inbetween, Yellow Island is as cutting edge as it gets, a feeling which seems to reflect the investment and vision of Bortoloti and Flavio, with the imprint having a profoundly strong audial identity that means every release operates by itself but also as part of a wider narrative. A producer through and through, Bortoloti has released a series of highly enjoyable records under the Nørus name, with his style epitomised by superb drumming sequences interlaced with gorgeous vibrant melodic work, and as you go between each of his releases you feel a theme beginning to emerge but also a notion of individuality and presence. Shifting through many differing strains of dance music's complex DNA, the vibe of any Nørus record is undoubtedly to make you move and make you think, with a deep set introspective notion found deep within the music's foundations, a notion that morphs and grows each time to give over a diverse set of emotions. We connect to the music well beyond the surface level, getting involved in the intricacies of the percussion as much as we indulge ourselves in the expansiveness of the keys, as both sequences do their utmost to channel visions of the dance floor and a star kissed horizon line. Tone and atmosphere are two key features of much of his work under the Nørus name, with this even extending into ambient territories which go to show just how far he is willing to push his creative ideals to their most purest form. Every record is a differing shade found within the spectrum, a set of feelings that lie just about a sea of intriguing rhythmic patterns, ready to ensnare us and transport us deep within a foundational structure that only becomes more compelling as time passes by. Pretty much all of his records are worthy of highlighting here, starting off with gorgeous enveloping tones that unravel from the Yellow Island Records debut, 2018's 'YLLWSLND'; the galloping breaky goodness found within the superb 'Forbidden Colors' EP, that arrived in 2019; the utterly sublime tones that persist throughout the 'With Love' EP, that landed in 2020; the remarkable ambient feels that abound from the 'Alento' record, which also landed in 2020; the powerful blend of mood and rhythm foun on the '_Songs 2: Memories from 2016-2019', which arrived earlier this year; and finally, perhaps our favourite of his so far, the enlightening 'Our Special Place' record, which also landed earlier this year. You should also be sure to check out the numerous compilations that Nørus has been a part of over the past few years, in particular the excellent ones found on Yellow Island. In all, Bortoloti's music is one of ebbs and flows, rhythmic pulses that wash out into the never ending pool, melodic blemishes that caress the soul with purity and feeling, with atmospheres being created that know no end to the potential to wow us. There's a sense of uplifting positivity throughout, our eyes firmly laid on the ever shifting tonal outlay as new sequences move within the foundations, presenting to us a sense of narrative that is so easy to fall in love with. Everything fits within it's right place, but there's plenty of room in which to grow with the tracks, and that in many ways is very special indeed. So, with that being said, why not take a deep dive through his works, trust us you won't be disappointed.
And now we arrive at the newest chapter in Bortoloti's story, with a new record under the Abysmal name, 'Resurrection', that lands on the sparkling new imprint Matter Of Time Records. From the off we feel like we have entered a new realm, with the crunchy aesthetic matched by the feverish intensity of the soundscape, with the scope and tone switching it up within each cut to push the ambient gloss to new depths of beauty. Bortoloti has already shown to us his affinity with ambient as a overarching concept to constructing music, but with this record there is a noticeable shift in tone and feel, with the rhythmic pulses adding weight to the eerie yet hauntingly beautiful keys that drift in and out of the clouds, gracing the ground we walk on with meaning and purpose. It's a designed sound that feels plucked out of our view of the world, rebounding off the buildings with a human touch that feels reactionary, the compositions inward looking and deeply moving, a soundtrack to the many shades of emotion that we all go through in life. And, in the end, we feel like that's what brilliant electronica should do. So, without further delay, lets dive right into this absolute beauty....
Up first comes 'Left Behind', and this one begins with the drones and tones to open things up. The sweeping textures smoothly transition between one pad to the next, their presence operating at differing depths in order to provide the grandest of scales to proceedings, with delicate percussive samples slowly swaying within the bottom ends of the track. A screech calls out from within the midsts, waking us up from our slumber as the percussive elements grow in pitch, our eyes now firmly open as the chords coming knocking at our door. We open up, and step out into a scene of undoubted scale and majesty, with far away lights blinkering through the density, our senses drawn to all manner of objects and features as we take our first steps into the sound. What an opener. 'Falling' arrives next, and this one begins with a slightly more consistent flow to get us going. The pads that come right into the mix are solid and complete, never breaking their presence but merely maintaining their pace in order to provide an anchor of sorts to the other filtering elements that swing in and out of view as time passed by. The drumming pattern is deeply intriguing, beginning off as a tom or snare that cuts right through the heart of the composition, with the vocals adding further to the left hand side of the pan, their emotive presence really off the chain as we immerse ourselves further into the murky depths. The rising strings add further weight to the progression, it's momentum characterised by brilliant variations in the feel that sees the track dip down quite deep indeed before rising up once again, with that singular drumming element doing a lot of the work in keeping the rhythm going on strong. All that occurs on top is pretty special too, as our hearts and eyes drift from left to right, aiming to see all that we can see but we reckon multiple listens are very much a requirement in order to see all that we want to see. Stunning stuff. 'Nothing more than you' arrives next, and this one begins with some very intriguing percussive elements indeed. The atmosphere skips along to it's own tune, with plenty of sub-base textures thriving in the shady early evening light, with the spaces between the beats quickly filled with some deep set chords that spread themselves over a very wide scale indeed. Their tone rises from beneath to above the drumming progression, and as we become acquainted with their presence the vocals slide into view, their softly spoken nature counter acted by their rapidness, our minds racing as to try and understand what they might be trying to speak to us. The track then descends into a sparsely filled segment, where the vocals then speak out 'I had a dream', and like that we are transported to realms where scapes seem mysterious and lucid, with the drums sliding back into view to give us a totality in experience. The ensemble is extremely engrossing, from the drumming to the vocals and back again, it all works so so well together. Top notch.
'Faceless Demons' comes on next, and we are greeted by the vocals speaking over a set of dusty audial samples. The track quickly gains traction as the glitchy melodic segment comes crashing into view, it's presence taking over the whole bottom section of the cut as the drums then hit hard through the middle, the resulting mix of sounds something to behold as we swing from side to side on a rhythmic journey to remember. The mix is a glorious one, the drums diving deep down into the underwater caverns to then rise to the surface all in the same loop, with the vocals repeating themselves on top to add to the hypnotic tendencies, whilst subtle yet fuzzy chordal lines sweep through the top ends to give the track that little bit extra in terms of substance. We are very much caught in a trance on this one. Stellar work. Up next comes 'End of Beginning', and this one begins in suitably murky depths and faraway places. The electronics are subdued yet seemingly eager to flourish at a moments notice, the wavelengths pointing to a layering of flat lines that will begin to apex as time passes by, and this begins to happen as swells push out from the density to perk our interests. The high pitch sweep that capitulates it's way through the track is something to behold, it's sharp edges contrasting beautifully with the even flows of the under swells, like a flash of light descending through a warped black hole. The pitch starts to mellow out and become one with the undercurrent, becoming one with the ebbs that persist within the peripheries as we flow from place to place with a idealistic smile on our face, pondering what might happen if we reach out and touch many of the glowing objects that occupy this fascinating soundscape. The track takes a deep inhalation of breath around the 4:30 mark, and like the dawning of a new day we arrive at the light, as hope and serenity dominate proceedings, passing over our heads and pointing towards the rising sun with a glimmer of joy rushing through our bodies. The pads rise then rise some more, eagerly ascending to a place we can only imagine, as we drift into a sublime state of being. Utterly glorious. 'Silence' arrives next, and this one takes us back into the warm fuzz that soundtracked many of the previous cuts. The vocal line speaks to us from across the plains, the words containing so very impactful words that speak of not experiencing joy, having things to look forward to, and waking up exhausted. The electronics underneath are respectful to the tone of the voice, never overcoming them but merely propping up their weight, and as the words start to taper off we are greeted with a melodic sequence that beat for beat matches the tonal outlay of the words. With every chord you can hear the words you just heard being spoken but through notes and chords, their presence still very much a part of the ongoing narrative as the drums come into view to provide a sense of pulse to the momentum. The percussion worms it's way between the lines very effectively indeed, taking it's time to weave around the gorgeous piano as distance singing swings into view, their presence lovingly laying over the progression with an ease that just personifies what this track is all about. We are taken aback, this track is just that moving. To wrap things up, we have 'Resurrection', and this one jumps right into the application of melodies to get us going. The chordal arrangement shifts from left to right as waves upon waves of tone wash over us, with the solidness of the chords counteracted with the blissfully placed textures that permeate through on the left and right. It's a fitting end to a record filled to the brim with originality, sonical exploration, and beautiful thought provoking compositions that hit the mark every single time. It's honestly a joy to listen to, this record.
Many producers try their hand at crafting pure emotion in their records, and most of them succeed in some degree to achieving these ends, but there's something about this particular record that means it rises to the very very top. Through a series of 7 cuts that seem to embody every single shade of human emotion, Bortoloti captures the viserealness of seeing the world through feelings and understanding how music can help contextualise what we are experiencing in that exact moment. The drumming, the chords, the atmosphere is all impeccably tinkered with in order to maximise the sound, with the listener placed right in the heart of a living breathing record that morphs to represent all the things we might go through in our minds on the daily. There are times where the emotions feel so real, brought right to the surface by the crafting of elements together that tug on the heartstrings, showcasing depth and presence wherever it chooses to take us. It's fair to say that we are enamoured with this record, and we cannot wait to hear what might flow next from Abysmal. Electronica at it's very finest, right here.
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