Album Reviews

Octogen – 2five0nine

(Soma) UK release date: 22 January 2007


Octogen is another discovery for the Soma label,and after last year’s Separatists collaboration albumwith Percy X, Marco Bernardi gets thechance to strike out on his own. Soma should bepraised for their continued commitment to seeking outnew talent, which last year resulted in the elevationof producers such as Alex Smoke and My RobotFriend.

In choosing to listen to it after a particularlyarduous day at work, I had unwittingly picked the besttime possible for Bernardi to cast his spell. There�san immediate warmth about the start of this record,with hypnotic electronic music that transports thelistener away – undoubtedly a machine based high butwith a warmth that would grace any Balearic club.

It all seems so simple on the surface, butBernardi’s secret lies in the carefully workedindividual lines, put together in an overall textureof glassy clarity that means every precise line anddrum beat can be heard in sharp focus. If this soundsover-clinical the reality is the opposite, for thestring pads of tracks like Save Your Sailor and theinward, Beloved-like vocal of the starry CSidebring a human element.

Bernardi tends to think instrumentally however, andhis sense of musical form leads to meticulousconstructions such as ACIEOB, introducing each layerseparately until the whole, glimpsed a couple ofminutes in, brings forward a powerfully cinematictrack.

It’s a long album, this, but has enough variety tocarry off without trouble, particularly as the closingquarter picks up the tempo and sharpens up the bass.Scionide pushes forward with an array of squigglymotifs, and Mushroom Mario introduces a mass of bleepsand breaks. The Reason Why (You Never Will) returns tovocal territory, sounding a bit like Goldfrappfed through a musical blender.

The music of Octogen seems best filed alongside theVector Lovers, one of Soma’s more recentsuccesses, but whereas the latter is more obviouslycomputer based this has a beating heart. There’s awarmth that will suit late summer nights, not tomention being the perfect comedown for stressed outoffice workers.


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