this is second full-length release by nicole elmer, and just like her "driving backwards" lp, it is a split release between mad monkey records and hymen. if you have not heard about neutral before, you might have heard her more drum&bass-oriented 7" on planet mu (a part of planet mu 7" series) as nicole elmer.
after I have listened to this album quite a few times, I still have to say that it leaves a mixed feeling. it is quite a difference from "font translation errors", in a sense that it is more cohesive as far as overall feeling of the album. yet another big change is introduction of many acoustic elements into the music – guitar riffs and bass are the most notable one (not to mention her untreated vocals on many pieces). again and again she surprises the audience with her very unique sense of composition, effortlessly moving between electro, idm, ambient and industrial. I am sure many of you would recognize different styles in her music, but the way they are blended together results in something completely new (and more "generic" one might add, although I would rather not use this term, since it bears negative connotation most of the time).
my favorites on the album are tracks with those incredible epic strings and her peculiar sense of melody that never fails - "desire of" and "4 minutes" with tumbling low-key idm beats drowned in the waves of deep strings, "180" with industrial stomping percussion among waves of dark strings and minimal mehanized noises, light and open ambience of "recoil" with occasional idm-like rhythmic textures emerging from shimmering melody. and of course "a departure that works" that mixes electro and idm in a catchy
overall this is a hard album to describe, one immediately notices its peculiar "earnestness", very "raw" feeling that the music has at times. after some hesitation I can call it a very "adult" music in a sense that it goes beyond and above the genres (neutral has always done that, but on this release it is particularly obvious), since they are not as important to her as the emotional expressionism. most of the acoustic tracks did not impress me as much as her more electronic-based compositions. maybe I am not as universally versatile in my music appreciation, maybe I strive for the more "cleaned-up" and polished sound. on the other hand, they certainly do create an interesting changing feel for the whole album, unfortunately I cannot avoid being almost irritated by some of the sounds, but immediately she makes up for it with other compositions.
even though a few tracks might raise the eyebrows of dedicated fans of hymen label, this album has more than enough of great (and *very* unique, I might add) material that makes it worth your while.