Monday, July 02, 2012

Song of the Day 27: 'Tritochiark - Vestigial Dreamcatcher for the Heavenly Integer' by Meteo Xavier

Ironically this is my very first crack at Song of the Day, not that it means anything seeing as it's just conveniently named to convey the difference with Song of the Week. Tritochiark is the first track on Meteo Xavier's album, Espers, which I will be covering over the next few days. If you want my comments on Espers as a whole, see the prelude post. I think Tritochiark does a fantastic job of setting the stage for the rest of the album as a whole, moving through soundscapes and transitioning among feelings.

The first few seconds establish the soundscape feel right away with some atmospheric synths getting involved right away. At 0:07 the drum beat comes down accented to clearly introduce the elements that were just added (chimes and more atmospheric synth work). At this point it's pretty clear that we're looking at some not-so-normal sounds and the overall feel and texture of the soundscape created is alien and beautiful. The boarderline tribal drum continues to play quarter notes at different volume. At 0:14 some of the textures in the synths come out more and small touches like this that really just establish atmosphere really help the track overall. Ethnic flute comes in at 0:17 to play a quick exotic melody before dropping out. There's some great slow expansion starting at 0:21 as atmospheric elements make their presence known as they echo across the soundscape. Some choir like noises (reviewing this track makes me wish I actually had the experience to name the sounds proper) fade in at 0:24 to add to the feel. One of the awesome things about this type of music is the fact that chord progressions are so subtly established via atmosphere. The chimes make another appearance at 0:43 with a barely audible ethnic flute playing a low melody to go with it. The drum gets in two hits at 0:50 which begins to establish a more clearly definable role for the percussion other than just quarter notes. There's just so much wonderful ambient soundscaping going on here that I really can't touch on all of the details (why do I get the feeling I'll be saying that at least once for nearly all the tracks on this album). 1:04 is definitely noticeable as another ethnic instrument drops in briefly for some trails of melody working in contrast with the vast soundscape going on around it. If the soundscape is the planet, we're getting an abbreviated version of the planet's history with all trails of melody/memory echoing through the overall feeling. However, the melody and instrument at 1:04 is more important as it only drops out for a few seconds before reappearing, completing its melody and then repeating starting at 1:18. The tempos seem to contrast but not in a harsh way. Overall this is a fantastic section the comes to a close at 1:33 with a transition roll. It seems like silence for a few seconds until something new fades in at about 1:40. This low bell-like synth plays an establishing melody that serves to set up the coming sections. At 1:47 the bass enters, establishing what I would interpret as a laid back feel if it weren't for the earlier sections of the track. Instead it comes across as establishing a comforting feel reminding us that the rest of the track won't be like the fast forwarded semi-chaotic history of the first minute or so. There's also an atmospheric synth that diverges from the bass at 1:51. The bass and other elements go through a chord progression until 2:01 at which time more elements are added on top of what has already been established. At 2:02 there's a high string synth added as well as some prominent bubbling atmosphere that keeps making brief appearances during each chord. The high synth begins its own additions to the feel serving as the lead for a brief time. At 2:08 the beat subtly reappears in the shape of a more standard bass drum and tambourine. The tambourine only comes in on the downbeat with a very light drum sample filling the gap. 2:16 signals the beginning of another cycle of progression. The first noticeable thing is obviously now the high synth bell lead working on top of all the other elements that have been established. The other thing is that high conga-like drum is now playing the equivalent of snare in the percussion setup with beats on 2 and 4 except the 4 has some extra pop (reverb and/or pan and/or delay added? wish I could explain it better). The cycle repeats at 2:30 with the high lead being the most obvious. At 2:44-2:45 there's transition roll with some chimes that eliminates the high lead in the next cycle and flushes out one of the other high synths that plays with the chord progressions. There's another repeat cycle at 3:00 and some chimes at 3:06 that continue until 3:09. The cycle again repeats at 3:13 with a transition roll and chimes except now the high synth bell lead is back. This continues until 3:41-3:42 transitions to a new section with chimes and a roll. Now we've just got high atmosphere chord progression going with the new element which is a harp type sound. This goes through its melody with string plucks as bass. There's a nice subtle build sweep from 3:53-3:55 that I quite enjoyed (small things like that separate the good tracks from the great ones in my opinion). The build sweep leads up to the added melody elements at 3:57 that does some great interplay with the harp-like stuff. At 4:10 a new synth comes out on top with the added melody elements from 3:57 now gone; this is probably the first real synthy sounding synth (yes, synthy) in the entire track. This acts as lead as it now has the most distinctive sound. This plays on top of the harp (which is no longer getting some string plucks as supporting bass). Once again the interplay is pretty awesome and the synth has a pretty cool melody going for it. There are some subtle atmospheric builds that lead up to the moment at 4:39 where there is a big transition with lots of new elements/elements brought to prominence. The harp-like sound has now become less harp-like and more acoustic guitar like. There's also now some beats going on although they don't take up a big part of the track. There's also some exotic atmosphere injected here and there that sounds like it was brought forward in time from the beginning of the track. At 4:53 there's a cycle transition that opens with a high atmospheric drop (bird noise almost). There's no more "synthy" synth and overall it's a relaxing transition that lets us enjoy the other elements and ambient noises all around. The exotic element is also there, making brief appearances frequently. This works until 5:07-5:08 when the percussion and some atmosphere drops out. Now we've got the "acoustic guitar like previously harp like" sound doing its thing with the exotic flute synth lasting a little while longer before disappearing. At 5:22 more/another element(s) are back in, but this time it sounds more orchestral in nature while keeping with the same melodic and harmonic themes (the new thing sounds like an oboe). The cycle repeats at 5:36 with some variations in the melody from the oboe. Bass reenters with the next cycle at 5:50-5:51 as just an establishing factor as it doesn't change notes. At 5:58 there's also some choir type samples back in the mix for atmosphere and as a sort of lead. This continues for a while with subtle changes made to keep things interesting (translation: this is a long song with a lot of very well done things that make it exhausting to cover in every detail). The "acoustic guitar like previously harp like" now reduces in volume slowly to flush out the choir a bit more. It fades out and then fades back in at 6:43 transformed into the original low bell synth from 1:40 comes in with the same melody from before (the transition here is extremely well done). The high note from the choir is left hanging and now we're back to a deja vu moment straight from 1:40. The bass enters at 6:55 just like before with the same thing happening as did last time except now at 7:09-7:10 we've got a flute joining the low bell synth melody. This builds then diminishes until 7:38 which again leaves us with the low bell synth and a very small injection of atmosphere. The last cycle begins at 7:56 as we're left with just the low bell synth as it fades into the distance. Hmmmm.

Pros: Atmosphere, ambiance, and awesomeness. This is flat out some of the best ambient type ethnic whatever you want to call it I've ever heard. Tritochiark as well of the rest of Espers stands apart for this reason. Tons of amazing subtle things happen that really pull this track together. I'm flat out blown away at how well executed this is.

Cons: The tempos and rhythms seemed a little disjointed at times, but it would've been worse if it were otherwise as this is important in maintaining the exotic feeling conveyed throughout the atmosphere. I listened to this track in as much detail as I could muster and I cannot find a single credible thing to complain about.

Overall: It's not hard for me to imagine having an out of body experience while writing music like this (See this link for explanation). This is flat out amazing stuff that does all sorts of things that I either don't hear done well in most music, or I don't hear at all.

Rating: 9.7

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