Reviewed by Todd Burns (stylus magazine)
An orchestra is tuning. A radio dial is being turned. A crowd is talking. And so it begins.
Under the alias of Lexaunculpt, Alex Graham was one of the emergent stars of the American revolution in IDM in the late 90s and early 00s. Coupled along with Phoenicia, Richard Devine, and Kid606 Graham debuted with two strong EP releases that appeared to assure that his upcoming full length was to be a classic. And then he disappeared. Making appearances every so often on compilations and remixing other people’s work, Graham didn’t fully retire from recoding. However, while Kid606, Devine, and the their two respective labels began to garner large notice in the underground and small notice in the mainstream, Lexaunculpt made little claim to his supposed throne.
No reason has been given as to why it’s been so long in forthcoming, but one would guess that part of the story relates to the extreme attention to sonic detail that is present in every millisecond of The Blurring of Trees. Obviously computer programs have paved the way for this- many of the beats that make up the majority of tracks found on the album resemble the rippling snares and deep bass of Richard Devine’s Lipswitch. Where Lipswitch failed, however, was in the melody department. For all of the complexities that could be shown within the construction of rhythmic compositions, little attention was paid to the emotional aspect of the proceedings.
Graham pays attention to both sides here and the change is a welcome one. Because of this subtle mixing of both melody and rhythm, The Blurring of Trees comes much closer to Phoenicia’s Brown Out or Autechre’s Tri Repetae than anything else. Perhaps the prime Autechre-esque moment is found in the nearly eight minute suite, “Has Been Trying Not to Wonder.” The song moves from part to part with orchestral underpinnings to each new permutation within the beat, showcasing Graham’s supreme ability in drum programming and song construction. It’s, perhaps, the IDM version of “B-Boy’s Bouillabaisse.”
Further along the album, though, Graham seems to lose the initial push that propelled the first half of the album to near perfection. The bogged down “Mister Bloodvessel Opener” showcases little but beautiful static surrounding a simplistic electro beat, while “Strangelove Offline” features the same sorts of sounds familiar to anyone who has listened to the Schematic brand of IDM that has been done to death.
The two closing numbers, however, somewhat redeem the bland second half of the album. “Oddrey Merged” merges a lilting orchestral based melody with slight traces of digital destructiveness lying in wait to make sure that nothing too unprocessed passes by the listener’s headphones. “Emori Dixon Renamed” also emerges as one of the finer tracks due to its slowly emergent looping melody, growing ever distorted and ever louder.
In the end, Lexaunculpt’s debut LP was worth the wait, but it seems like if this album had come out in, say, 2000 that today we would be receiving something mind-blowing from Graham. Better late than never.
- Various - The Cosmic Forces Of Mu
- Venetian Snares - Defluxion
- Venetian Snares & Speedranch - Making Orange Things
- Joseph Nothing - Dummy Variations
- Hrvatski - Swarm & Dither
- Mu Allstars - Criminal
- Hellfish & Producer - Constant Mutation (Mixed)
- Leafcutter John - Microcontact
- Nicole Elmer - Beef Bouilion
- Tim Tetlow - Beauty Walks A Razor's Edge
- Phthalocyanine - 25 Tracks Fer 1 Track
- Leafcutter John - Concourse E.E.P.
- Luke Vibert - '95-'99
- Jega - Geometry
- Capitol K - Roadeater E.P.
- Kid Spatula - Full Sunken Breaks
- Jega & Kid Spatula - Unity Gain / Hard Love
- Capitol K - Sounds Of The Empire
- Slag Boom Van Loon - So Soon
- Tusken Raiders - The Motorbike Track
- Slag Boom Van Loon - Slag Boom Van Loon
- Jega - Spectrum
- Horse Opera - 3 Cornered Room
- Capitol K - Island Row