It's fascinating to hear and follow an artist's journey in real-time. Imagine how many hours we all spend reflecting on notorious albums; analyzing their sound; when it changed; when it got better; which albums started to resonate; which albums you wished they didn't make. Boards of Canada, for example - a fascinating story of development; from the defining sound of Music Has The Right To Children, to the more psychedelic Geogaddi and the apocalyptic tone of Tomorrow's Harvest; it's the nuances in an artist's sound which help us relate and grow alongside them. But more often that not, it's done in retrospect.
Some fifteen-plus releases after 36's (Dennis Huddleston) 2009 album Hypersona, I'm still hanging on to his ever-evolving catalog with attentive ears. I'm not sure if Dennis feels the same way about this album, but Void Dance, is, a defining moment for me as a listener and voyeur of his beautiful sound.
Void Dance begins with a very recognizable, yet distinctly more refined 36 sound. The soaring strings of Hold On reminding us of Dennis' Places Series release, Heather Spa - echoing desolation and destruction. The intensity quietens for Equinox, as if the event we just witnessed billows plumes of slowly spiralling smoke, and debris is washed ashore a quiet, yet previously beautiful beach, as you peer down from a tiny window miles above.
Stasis Eject, taken from the previously released EP Pulse Dive (as is the title track Pulse Dive), marks the beginning of the more electronic sounding tracks; lifted straight from an empty shuttle hurtling around Earth's atmosphere - tension, shrouded in an envelope of silence, slowly growing as your suspected realization quickens.
An interlude of BoC sounding synths signals a change in horizon - a new earth, a new planet maybe, in Meshi Echelon. The inquisitive and melodic Nova, sparkles and quickens with intrepidation, setting up the majestic Pulse Dive. This track, as mentioned before, was taken from 36's earlier EP and is a shining example of Dennis's new approach. Compare with early Global Communication if you will, it's productions like Pulse Dive that will go on to define Dennis' evolution, and when surrounded a quality album such as this, are given the true space and light to stand-out.
The new life; the new planet; you paid witness to with Pulse Dive, is brought back down to ground level with Tomorrow's World, again, teasing another special moment in the following title track Void Dance. Featuring significantly more distinct elements than previous tracks, and evolving throughout the six-minutes, the evocative strings and glorious melody pair nicely as significant book-ends with the earlier Pulse Dive.
The first day draws to dusk, and a curtain of Diamond Rain slowly descends into the unrecognizable valleys you're sat beneath, spurring a moment of reflection in Sine Dust, finished with a soft gentle whisper from a fellow traveller, or indeed your inner-self.
As the album comes to a close, so does your journey into this new world as you slowly settle down for the night, and the soft, yet haunting sound of The Last Light, lulls you into a dreary state.
I often find Dennis' work to make for perfect mix endings - his introspective emotion is so vivid, especially in previous albums. Ending Void Dance; Endless, is however, one of his most evocative tracks yet, and a perfect reminder of the 36 power. Gone is the melancholy and instead, a feeling of fulfilment and opportunity, amongst the slowly descending pads and soaring synths, tethering a fine-line between all-out trance and bvdub style euphoria.
As you can probably tell by now from my own personal narrative, Void Dance is a masterpiece in storytelling. The 36 sound we've followed for years has evolved, and with it, born brilliant tracks such as Pulse Dive and the title track Void Dance. But more importantly, Dennis didn't let these tracks sit alone or amongst a sub-par album. Instead, he has crafted an articulate journey that accentuates this new style - the innovative, the norm, the style we recognize and the tracks we don't, into an album worth a thousand visuals. It's one thing crafting a couple of tracks and moving your sound forward, it's another positioning this within an entire record.
Void Dance is available to pre-order on CD and digital now at 3six.net