In the era of downloads, self-released CDRs and the like, there’s nothing to limit the amount of stuff that an artist releases apart from their own self-editing and self-restraint. Wil Bolton, who records as CHEjU, has more than thirty releases listed on Discogs , all issued since 2004. Many of these were of ludicrously small print runs, and the number of realworld and netlabels involved runs into double figures. Help is at hand for the confused punter. Bolton has selected eleven of his personal favourites, together with one previously unissued track and a trio of remixes, and made them into an album.
Many of these ragbag collections of tracks from various sources and periods can sound incoherent, but you wouldn’t know from listening to Broken Waves that it it was anything other than a specifically recorded project. Its advantage is that all of these pieces will have had time to prove themselves, so the things that sounded good for a week can be easily jettisoned. The CHEjU sound can be broadly summed up as old school melodic home listening electronica, infused with very 21st Century beats that range from Pan Sonic-like noise pulses, to insectoid micro-clicks and pops. It’s a formula – but then so is guitar, bass and drums.
Broken Waves turns out to be a very strong and cohesive set indeed. The melodies are sticky and immediate, the beats and rhythms varied and fresh, and there’s always enough going on to benefit close scrutiny. The glitched guitar figure that opens “Traces” is a winning start, and the next hour and a quarter is full of high points. The big symphonic sweep of “Blanchot” juxtaposed against juddering, arrhythmic beats; the micro-clicks and melodious funk of “Closing In”; the distorted guitar undercurrent of “Data Packet” and the beautiful AFX-inspired “Pantone” are just four. The remixes are all of a high standard, and since they aren’t of tracks that have already featured, they don’t seem tacked on.
Although its providence is taking stock, Broken Waves feels like the first exceptional electronica release of 2009. It’s released on Boltfish on January 29th.
4. Object Not Found
5. Closing In
8. Data Packet
13. Casiotonic (Reason or Romanza remix)
14. Scattered (Electricwest remix)
15. Bellflowerroot (Preston remix)
This review also appears on the [SIC] Magazine website.