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(58:29, Hel Audio)
TRACK LIST: 1. Day One 2:28 2. Genetic 4:04 3. Antidote 3:05 4. Headspace 2:25 5. Meridian 2:38 6. TT 3:56 7. Quake 3:39 8. Message 1:09 9. Lowlight 2:44 10. Timer 2:42 11. Peach Trees 4:29 12. Clouds 2:37 13. Moon Scan 5:02 14. Black Glow 2:04 15. One Dream Lost 1:53 16. Ram Page 3 4:24 17. Trace 2:15 18. Never 2:18 19. Blade 2:08 20. Marketid 2:29 LINEUP: Not stated
Prolusion. The Norwegian project METATAG is the creative vehicle of two composers who so far prefer to stay anonymous. "Transmission" is, from what I understand, their debut production, and was released digitally and on cassette by the US label Hel Audio in 2014.
Analysis. I was sent this production for review after a curious set of circumstances. An old school mate of mine, from the time when I attended children's school, got in touch with me becase he'd seen that I reviewed some music, and wondered if I would be interested in having a go at a project where his younger brother was involved. I accepted, as I generally do when someone wants to send me music to write about. I'll have to add that I recall spending quite a few hours of my childhood playing computer games with this old school mate of mine and his younger brother. While I'm always honest about anything I write about, I still feel a responsibility to inform readers whenever there are circumstances involved that may involve a bias, even if it may be on a subconscious level. I will also respect that the creators of this music wants to stay anonymous, and while those who know me really well on a personal level may deduce just who one of the artists is in this case I do hope they will show the same level of respect. As far as the music on this production goes, it is one that on a superficial level might be described as minimalistic electronic music. Which doesn't say all that much, true enough, but a description that nonetheless will sort those with an interest in reading further and those who know that this isn't something that will interest them at all. On a more detailed level, there are basically two different kinds of compositions on this 20-track long cassette. The least interesting, at least as far as my own taste in music goes, are smooth, soft ambient excursions with two or perhaps three textures present, generally slow in pace and intensity, dream-laden excursions of the kind that might easily find favor with an audience into so called new age music. Metatag's creations don't quite fit into that category, at least if you are a dedicated electronic music nerd, but I suspect quite a few listeners without a substantial interest in music will sort these numbers into that particular landscape. The other constellations, which are in the majority here, are rather more intriguing. Still minimalistic in scope, I believe five different audible textures were the most I encountered in any given composition simultaneously, all of these electronics fueled journeys fairly repetitive in scope and approach, frequently with hypnotic qualities to them. These are different though, and while mostly ambient in expression these all feature at least two contrasting elements, dark drones as a recurring element and more often than not with various kind of electronics based rhythms, sequencers and repeated electronic pulses in most cases. Berlin school is an expression that comes to mind here, in some cases with associations towards the likes of Tangerine Dream, although I suspect that neither that veteran electronics band nor Berlin school idol Klaus Schulze is at the top of the list of influences for the members of Metatag. As other Norwegian projects that I more or less suspect are connected to this one have the late Conrad Schnitzler as a distinct influence that may well be the case here too, but I do not know enough about this type of music to give any further comparisons I'm afraid. If Austrian artist Gandalf should ever have a go at making minimalistic music of the Berlin school variety, I suspect the end result might sound fairly similar to the music of Metatag, in case that is a description that comes across as revealing. I will also note that the moods here are fairly dark in nature. This is an album that features drone based songs without many additional details that despite a fairly monotonous and repetitive nature still sound ominous and alarming, and words like bleak, desolate and machine-like were frequent in my notes when I had my detailed listen through this production. As such it comes across as fitting and natural that a label called Hel Audio picked up this title, at least for those who know their way around Norse mythology.
Conclusion. "Transmissions" is a fine debut album by Metatag. Their brand of dark, ambient and electronic music isn't one that will appeal to a broad audience I suspect, the often bleak and desolate landscapes explored ones that will intrigue a select few. But if you enjoy minimalistic, ambient electronic music of the instrumental variety, and especially if you enjoy the sound of vintage keyboards, this is a production that should intrigue you. Even more so if you tend to enjoy music of this kind that contains at least some references to the so-called Berlin school of electronic music.
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