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Aspects of Physics - Systems of Social Recalibration

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Artist: Aspects of Physics

Album: Systems of Social Recalibration

Label: Imputor?

Review date: Jul. 1, 2002

Coming out of the remains of San Diego's Physics, this new project carries on in some ways with that band's explorations of electronics and space music, though with a decidedly less rock-oriented approach. On the tracks here, synthetic sounds and computer-based manipulations clearly have the upper hand over the guitar.

"Pulse Width" opens the album with digital clicks and wavering synths, but then a delicate guitar line finds its way in with dramatic results. This is a fine combination of approachable guitar melody and cold digital interference.

The epic, 17-minute "Level 4.2" may be the centerpiece of the album. It opens with cavernous echoes of distant electronic flutterings and clicks, with arpeggiated guitar adding motion. When the drums kick in, though, the sound really finds its full weight, and the song is suddenly given a gravity that you hadn't even realized it needed. This is a gorgeous song that may inevitably be compared to other groups aiming for similarly dramatic scope, but all that's important is that the song succeeds admirably. As it reaches the final minutes, strange synthetic sounds begin to take over, all perfectly-placed with thought behind them -- not simply dropped-in randomly.

"s.id" certainly disturbs the trance created by the previous song, with video-game noises blasting and blipping away. While fun, this is clearly a minor piece compared to the others here. "Reson" follows, as delicate collection of scintillating background chimes, plucked guitar, and gentle laptop chitter-chatter.

"Everything Else We Must Pass Over In Silence" is a gathering of filtered and chopped beats that takes a digression into space partway through courtesy of dense synth pads and crystalline pings. By the time a simple guitar melody enters, the artificiality of the laptop beats has been conquered by melody and pathos. Very nice.

"Entrainment" cycles synth sounds through an intricate sequence, disturbed only by deep tones and weird noises, while "Contact" finishes the album off in an almost goofy way with a toy-synth-sounding progression broken by moments of drama, until Tangerine Dream-ish synthesizers take over and simple beats propel the song slowly but steadily onward.

Systems of Social Recalibration is a very good album that, at its best, creates drama from disparate, otherworldly electronics grounded by guitar and a fine sense of development. The only other element here that I feel the need to comment on is the booklet text. While nothing but good can be said of the experimental ambitions outlined here, to some extent it feels as though the authors were overreaching, and in some need of an editor. But again, if it provokes thought, then perhaps it's successful. And if it doesn't, then just set it aside and let the music do its work.

Note: This album is being released on vinyl in the U.S. through Rocket Racer.

By Mason Jones

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