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2011/05/23 / monteurhulot

ALBUM // Ranvir Bassi – There are no maps to find me

This could prove the most ambitious electronic album of the year – coming in at around an hour and fifty minutes, it’s only fourteen minutes shorter than Joanna Newsom’s three-disc Have One On Me – and in that span, Ranvir Bassi tackles an exceedingly wide range of styles with a deep textual pallette. On early track “Not in a Zoo, in an Office, in New York,” clattering bells and organ provide the backdrop for a spoken word piece that manages to split the difference between Ghostpoet and Life Without Buildings. This gives way to “Gippy,” harsh digital effects and insistent, aggressive base invoking the post-industrial dread present in so much of the Hyperdub label’s ouput. The techno “Moonbeams” is even more relentless, beats paired with ever-ascending glitches. At this point it becomes apparent that the closest musical analog may be Muslimgauze . While Bassi doesn’t use the same Middle Eastern instrumentation (ironic, seeing as Bassi has roots in that stretch of the world that Muslimgauze was so intensely preoccupied with) or engage in Bryn Jones’ radical sloganeering, and while his work very much sounds the product of DAW’s, they share a certain proflicacy¹, a willingness to strech ideas out over long periods, and a percussive intensity that can reach pummeling heights. The many tracks of There are no maps to find me shift from techno, classic IDM and glitch to trancey numbers like “Deer God Forest,” (as occult and arboreal as the name implies) to Eno-isms, fucked up synth-pop (“Akaali Kid the Anti-Limiter,”) digi-Zither ruminations (“New Weird America”,) and the ambient breakbeat of “Jungle Zen de Chiyono,” yet all this varied material shares that common spirit of courageous dedication to musical ideas, often leading to somewhat punishing results for the listener. What could be the closest thing to pop here, “I See Ghosts,” sounds like fashionable German tech-pop…mashed up with thudding hardstyle. Here, again, an affect shared with the best dubstep is expressed without applying that genre’s form.

Taken as a whole, the album can be a bit overwhelming, but in a world of digital music, that’s not really a substantive criticism. Mixing and matching songs, one could make several very satisfying albums of a more standard length from all the material available here. Seeing as that material is free to download, there’s no reason at all not explore for yourself the web Bassi has weaved.²

t.

¹How prolific? Bassi added four tracks to this album between the time I first listened to it and wrote this review (welcome to 2011!) and released another collection of tracks just last December.

²If you do choose to download There are no maps to find me, Bassi will suggest that you download Das Racist’s Sit Down, Man – and if you haven’t done that yet…well, what’s the matter? Are you behind a North Korean firewall?

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