Sugary pads and cut-up vocal sounds dominate on Mike Paradinas’ latest
As well as being snobby, alienating and disowned by its practitioners, the term ‘intelligent dance music’ was also always a bit misleading. Most of the appeal came from dazzling sonic trickery – an audio fireworks display – and the hefty qualities of jungle, the genre’s counterpart which was implied to be unintelligent by comparison. In light of this Mike Paradinas, owner of Planet Mu and a difficult-to-type artistic moniker, has made an IDM record that delivers a bit of both but keeps things relatively light sonically.
Sugary pads and cut-up vocal sounds dominate Magic Pony Ride, with brisk drum breaks including the ubiquitous Amen providing rhythmic propulsion. Uncle Daddy uses a sparkling arpeggiator and 303 ostinato to add some pizzazz, and Goodbye sees its percussion intermittently devoured by glitchy granular synthesis as the bass pounds underneath. Elka’s Song takes a more childlike approach, perhaps borrowing from Aphex Twin tracks like To Cure A Weakling Child and Girl/Boy Song, while Shulem’s Theme slows the pace right down for a rather sloppy helping of reverb and synth noodling (and is that an accidental interpolation of Berlin’s Take My Breath Away?)
Unless is perhaps the most interesting song on the album, as it focuses on a syncopated one-note bass ostinato which produces a slightly ominous flapping sound under the track’s slow build. The chord sequence is contemplative, not relating much to the bass pedal but seemingly not needing to, and the layered breaks are suitably intense, punctuated by an echoey high-pitched sample to complete the nocturnal vibe. The sound palette elsewhere is more uniform, which is not necessarily a bad thing given µ-Ziq’s pedigree – Magic Pony Ride might not be the most ambitious record in the world, or in Paradinas’ discography, but the music accomplishes its stated goals and is enjoyable in the process.