Everything and anything could be said about the meaning of OOO (or is it 000?), but one should abstain, as Upon Cycles is a rich enough slice of music to satisfy the most demanding fan of sharp electronic music. Hailing from the legendary Detroit, a city responsible for spurting a considerable amount of talents at an industrial pace, OOO’s Nicholas C. Raftis III remained until very recently completely unknown to most, which makes this first release even more unbelievable. Yet, Upon Cycles is definitely real.
Released on the ever excellent and uncompromisable Planet Mu, this record is, behind its enigmatic cover, a mine of sounds, textures and beats. Comparisons with Aphex, Squarepusher, Autechre and µ-ziq have already been made, yet these associations, as flattering as they might be, are more relevant to the creative approach than to the music itself. Of course, there are references scattered around the sixteen tracks of Upon Cycles, but they are so diverse than it is almost impossible and totally futile to draw a map of Raftis’s music journey. The album opens with the quirky 3 Points…, which evokes John Barry as heard through kaleidoscopic speakers. As distorted as the leading melody is, it develops in surprising way as a considerably slowed down vapour of drill’n’bass takes shape. The beat appears to take the lead for a moment just under the halfway mark while a dirty analogue secondary melody rotates in the background, before the whole thing eventually comes crashing down heavily. 3 Points… reveals from the start the interesting contrast of melodic electronica, complex abstract soundscapes and delicately crafted beats that exists throughout this album.
Balancing elements of traditional techno, electro, ambient and twisted electronica into incredibly tight sonic constructions, Raftis creates here a surprisingly coherent record. Although he remains within the same soundscapes all the way through, Raftis still manages to present some interesting variations, with textures and tones playing an important part in providing interesting nuances to his work. From the sharp beat constructions of Colour Ballet, Next Level Of The Tree or Kichigai Arukedo or the mechanical structure or Group Heartbeat to the vast plains of Oments, Separation Definition or Sleep Paralysis, Daftis dispenses his sonic themes with sheer enthusiasm, revealing a multitude of facets to his musical persona.
As first albums go, Upon Cycles is as near perfect as it gets. With an impressive control over his work and a creative approach to sonic structures, OOO’s Nicholas C. Raftis is likely to rapidly become a name to count on. As Upon Cycles progresses, it dawns on the listener that there aren’t any boundaries Raftis cannot push down, and that this album is simply the expression of a small part of his talent.
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- OOO - Upon Cycles
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