Aybee, Worlds

[Deepblak]


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Sci-fi isn’t currently a popular look for techno: these days, the genre is more likely to land on the sooty, industrial end of the spectrum. Oaklander Armon Bazile’s latest album as Aybee, Worlds, isn’t so easily categorized, but it propels itself forward with techno’s unmistakable sense of futurism. In most respects, Aybee’s work has more in common with the equally difficult-to-pigeonhole scene Levon Vincent captured on Fabric 63 than, say, the latest hotly tipped Blawan collaboration. Worlds is a unique mélange of deep house, Sun Ra, hip-hop, and the radioactive background glow of Autechre’s Amber, among other coordinates, but stands out as a work of deliberate individuality. Trading barreling claustrophobia for unlimited headroom, Aybee’s second album is a leisurely paced, distantly menacing soundtrack for space travel. Contrasting with the prevalence of droll, tongue-in-cheek tone of titles like Oneohtrix Point Never’s “Betrayed in the Octagon” or Milton Bradley’s “Reality Is Wrong,” Worlds’ tracks sport blunt titles like “Portal,” “Landing,” and “Ascending” — suggesting nothing less serious-minded than the hero’s journey, framed by the harsh indifference of the universe.

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That looming sense of oblivion is very much at the fore on tracks like “Portal,” which introduces Worlds at close to absolute zero with a glowering, razor-toothed drone, and “Rays,” with the way its warped rave pads — more Disintegration Loops than Shed — threaten to fall grievously out of orbit. The entropy hinted at by such sounds only highlights Aybee’s sharp drum engineering — he already lords over every hit, watching the decay and delay like a hawk. Juxtaposed with formless, otherworldly sounds, the rhythms gleam with steely permanence. On “VgR,” the underlying strain between robotic syncopations and the unstructured oscillations wailing above the beat suggest the alien FX of a Monotron Delay soloing over a stripped-to-the-bone DJ Premier beat. There’s a kind of free-associative dream logic to the stark contrasts in Aybee’s arrangements, as on the stern funk of “Moon’s Whisper,” whose raw, syncopated groove slow-jacks to infinity, hardly noticing the busy telepad firing off in the background.

Worlds‘ off-kilter apotheosis arrives on “Solaris,” where the pistol-like report of the snares and a bass drum like a misfiring thruster cut a wavering, uncertain path through a colonnade of lost voices. Like the Stanislaw Lem novel and the Andrei Tarkovsky movie it’s titled after, the track possesses its own poetics of self-doubt, provoked by an eerie, alien intelligence that remains out of frame. Some of the tension evacuates for the Madlib-esque MPC cubism of “What Is,” and is all but absent by the time “Ascending” concludes the album — the woody clicks of an upright bass remind us of the nervy scribbles furtively embedded in “Portal,” but are submerged here in a medium much more favorable to life.

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Bazile works his materials with a novelist’s thoroughness, but Worlds‘ visceral Afrofuturism is sharply focused, content to suggest other dimensions through richly imaginative sound design, audaciously swung drum machines, and an ambivalent sense of isolation. It’s tempting to try to shed light on Aybee’s second LP by drawing comparisons to other sounds, but Worlds stands resolutely, almost stubbornly, on its own. The promo has been circulating since 2012, making its last-minute way onto my year-end chart. Set for release this month, Worlds is more than likely to hold its own against the albums to come in 2013, and makes Aybee and his Deepblak label a scene to follow closely.

lerato  on January 24, 2013 at 10:49 AM

wonderful review . wonderful album !!!

Joey A  on January 24, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Aybee is King

rubin  on January 24, 2013 at 1:09 PM

This is one of the most eloquent reviews I’ve read in a very long time, super excited to pick this up finally this month.

PCH  on January 24, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Wellllll… “this month” might be pushing it. The A-side has been recut, and slightly changed, and while our forward movement isn’t exactly at warp speed, it’s forward movement nonetheless.

Nice review BTW.

derotter  on January 24, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Bought the promo last week in London, Solaris is an incredible track.

Also love his label Deepblak, the last 3 releases are stunning (Damon Bell, Pursuit Grooves & Afrikan Sciences).

2013 is already a great year of music with top notch releases of DJ Spider, Lil Silva, Dreesen, Ian Martin & Aybee!

Ben V  on January 24, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Nice review! Looking fwd to seeing/hearing Aybee at next CDR Berlin, Feb 7th: http://cdrberlinfeb.eventbrite.com/

Henderick AKA Thelonious Funk  on January 28, 2013 at 3:20 PM

@derotter,

Yeah I am looking forward to hearing this album. You are right about Dynamo Dreesen & DJ Spider. Spider in particular is in line for a very busy year between his label & his releases…

Blaktony  on January 30, 2013 at 6:10 PM

“Solaris” = Dopeness.

Trackbacks

[DBR-V016] AYBEE – WORLD’S LP | 2x Vinyl | Coming…  on January 31, 2013 at 8:53 AM

[…] It’s tempting to try to shed light on Aybee’s second LP by drawing comparisons to other sounds, but Worlds stands resolutely, almost stubbornly, on its own. – Little White Earbuds http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/review/aybee-worlds/#.UQpvER1lU0M […]

Little White Earbuds January Charts 2013 | Little White Earbuds  on February 1, 2013 at 10:50 AM

[…] Date” [white] 05. Nicholas, “Things of the Past (Feat. Stee Downes)” [4lux] 06. Aybee, “Landing” [Deepblak] 07. G. Marcell, “UFuseddude” [Machining Dreams] 08. A Made Up Sound, […]

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