Precision. Brevity. Minimalism. Clinicalness. These are all concepts suggested by the name Inch-Time, the electronica project of Australian musician Stefan Panczak. Such notions inform most of The Floating World, Panczak’s third album under the Inch-Time guise, and the first released on his own label, Mystery Plays Records. It is a release that occupies similar territory to his previous material but on the whole comes over as a more honed, consistent and atmospheric piece of work. Dig down deeper and you learn that Panczak found inspiration in the Japanese art movement of Ukiyo on this occasion, which provides an additional, suitably intellectual context for the resulting album.
It opens with Videograms, crisp beats and smeared kosmische synths forming a kind of free-flowing electronic tapestry. The quietly sprawling X-Ray Eyes follows, unfurling at a slower, near glacial pace. Next up, Of Times Past sees scattered micro-percussion settling over a series of delicately inferred melodic lines. It is an opening triumvirate that sets an impressively high standard, and compares favourably to the best work of acts such as Ametsub, Marconi Union and ISAN. Indeed, these comparisons are lent further weight by the news that an album of remixes by other electronica outfits will accompany this release.
Two Courtesans has a creeping dub feel, and surprisingly shares similar moods and textures to those found on the recent Forest Swords record, albeit here distilled into something smaller and more compact. Electric Blue has more in the way of dubby reverberations and sees Panczak also incorporate some of the spatial acoustic instrumentation found on 2006’s As The Moon Draws Water album. Other than this track however, it is an idea he chooses not to pursue on this release. Instead he concentrates on purely electronic compositions, best represented here by The Big Sleep and Late Spring both of which feature sharply delineated, taut beats running alongside short, cyclical metallic effects. Similarly, suspension recalls the tightly controlled minimalism of Alva Noto.
In 2008 Panczak curated a curious, slightly whimsical concept album by the title of Teaism: Music Inspired By The Art And Culture Of Tea which collected tracks from a gathering of similarly inclined musicians. It demonstrated his commendable interest in pursuing wider projects but also hinted at the existence of a collective of artists under the musical radar that shared a communal outlook and set of styles. The Floating World may not possess this sort of broader, unusual agenda and may not necessarily radically expand the genre but it is another of those satisfying albums of unassuming, cerebral electronica that seem to currently drop on to the musical horizon with gratifying regularity.