this new record by nicole elmer came out as a split release between hymen and mad monkey records. I was quite surprised when i heard an announcement about neutral being picked up by hymen. although I did like “font translation errors” as well as neutral’s great contribution to n5md sampler, I never really considered it to be suitable for hymen records. but now that the record is out, it is definitely a big step forward for nicole elmer in terms of recognition within the ant-zen/hymen crowd. at the same time it makes me wonder what is stopping hymen from branching more and more into idm space.
this record contains six tracks that overall sound more “solid” than “font translation errors,” keeping within the same electronica format, and yet each track has something different to offer. soft melodies (something that I have always liked neutral for) are accompanied by simple percussion, small noises, and carefully placed acoustic elements that together result in varied, well-composed tracks. what sets nicole elmer apart is the variety of music elements used placed together in a very unusual way that defies the standards established by existing genres.
as with previous release, there are several tracks that stand out on the album, while others are either too disjointed or simply pale in comparison with the others. opening “airport” quietly plays with miniature beats and small melody. the track mixes together both acoustic and tiny noisy elements. following “kitchen kilometer green” reminded me of better sybarite moments for its light and simple acoustic melody and flowing simple percussion. it is full of wonderful unusual sounds that make up a simple and catchy melody. and finally “j. doesn't do acid anymore” shines with beautiful deep strings and an array of minimal percussion.
at times I wish the melodies were “deeper” and more layered, but I guess neutral is more about combining many influences and styles together, not going for the easy appeal like many idm/electronica. I noticed that overall I would like each single track, but there always would be a few questionable moments that sound out of place. strangely enough those very moments will make you go back to the song and listen to it again, just trying to figure out how it all fits.