Album: BARRY LYNN – Balancing Lakes (Planet Mu ZIQ162 2008)

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Balancing Lakes is a collection of tracks recorded by Barry Lynn in the four years preceding his debut LP as Boxcutter, Oneiric. It’s a set that shows a talent already fully-formed, even if he doesn’t always seem too sure how best to use it. If the two Boxcutter albums are pretty eclectic, this takes the proverbial biscuit. Lynn seems happy to turn his hand to pretty much anything from the past 15 or so years of electronic music. If the tunes sometimes lack originality, they are never less than deftly created. And some are very good indeed.

Things start on a dubby minimal techno kick with “Abort, Retry, Fail”, a fair indication of things to come. Second cut “Something With M In It” is an affectionate nod to the mid nineties Warp Artificial Intelligence sound – all muted beats and distant, melancholy synth washes. “LTI” takes that blueprint and gives it a harder late nineties edge. Both tunes are done exceptionally well. Sometimes the influences are a little too obvious. Even Richard James would probably think that “Leafy Imprint” was one of his! Elsewhere Lynn takes on drum and bass. “Loving Dub” is defiantly from the old school, while “Lattice Shimmer” has more of a gleaming, tech-step sheen and “J-Set Jogwheel” feels totally contemporary. “Early Reflection” is a stand-out cut – a stunning IDM track with a distressed, grubby beat. It’s easily as good as anything on the two Boxcutter records.

The dub influences that are heavily featured on Glyphic are represented on Balancing Lakes. “Hayfever Dub” and “November Dub” are pretty straightforward with little to distinguish them. “London Gear” sounds almost prehistoric with its scuffed jungle beats and time-stretched vocals – like it was beamed in from 1992. The only familiar tune in the collection is the original version of “Fieldtrip”, Glyphic’s closing track. This first reading is an almost ambient skeleton.

Balancing Lakes may be a little too all over the shop to really work as a coherent album, but even so, it features some superb music which fully deserves to be heard. Even the weaker, more derivative tunes offer a fascinating glimpse of a rare talent learning his craft. Anyone who enjoyed the two Boxcutter LPs will find a lot to love on this record.

Tracks
1. Abort, Retry, Fail
2. Something With M In It
3. Loving Dub
4. New Orleans
5. Lattice Shimmer
6. LTI
7. Early Reflection
8. Hayfever Dub
9. Leafy Imprint
10. London Gear
11. J-Set Jogwheel
12. Metric Cypher
13. Fieldtrip (original)
14. November Dub

Released February 25th.

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