If all that sounds a bit heavy, it needn’t be. More an observation that Wheeler’s extraordinary music has the power to move in a way that few electronic composers can manage. And the term ‘composer’ is used purposefully, for some of these works stand between minimalism of the kind Steve Reich might employ for a remix and the more driving techno that tends to be associated with Soma.
Once again Wheeler puts us amongst the weather with his unconscious portrayal of the elements through machinery. The sound of rain on metal ushers us in to Far Side Of The Tracks, while the skilled manipulation of textures when the “sky burst open at the seams” in the exquisite vocal track Hush Now is completely beguiling. Long Wave, meanwhile, finds itself set on the sea shore at night, with sine waves crossing over while the real surf breaks on the shore.
And yet for all its electronic trickery Afterglow offers the sign that Wheeler may be moving towards acoustic climbs. Piano Dust is just that, a brittle, weightless piano suspended above the texture in a harsh beauty. The title track itself is based on a high electric violin loop, punctuated at the other end of the spectrum by slow but regular booming drum beats, the ideal signing off before turning out the lights.
Whereas Vector Lovers began life as a solo instrumental project, essentially one man and his bedroom recording equipment, the vocal tracks are now becoming the must-hear items. Crash Premonition is Afterglow’s crowning glory, a glacial weather sound ushering in a sharply evocative vocal and a driving, dancefloor friendly beat. Lost The High looks inwards, noting that “every night in the city bleeds you dry” with an unexpected poignancy.
In a year where electronic music is fighting back against its protractors, Vector Lovers can be added to the list of protagonists with an album to shout from the rooftops. This is a quite superb example of how to craft sounds, textures and melodic snippets into a whole that, while inhuman in its execution, speaks directly to the soul. If Martin Wheeler isn’t snapped up by Hollywood soon, I for one will be very surprised.