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Album Review: Alex Under – La Máquina De Bolas

After a seven-year album hiatus, any artist would be expected to face a certain level of pressure upon a new release. Fortunately, CMYK’s chief has returned with an album of pure artistic qualities.

With a tracklist compiled of the same word – ‘Bola’ (the Spanish definition to which lists as a cattle hunting tool), you gather that this is a collective body aiming to grab listeners in before even pressing play. The theme is set in stone and the music follows order.

After a brief, mysterious opening of varied electronic pulses, the lo-fi mystique carries on, providing very minimal, bubbly electronica. The groovy, robotic repetition begs for your time, seducing you in with brief glances of light down its dark, hallow corridor.

By Bola 3, we hear more depth, with more vibrant noise going on. The overall sound still carries the now-trademark minimal industrial vibe. The patient tone has already adapted to the context of this artist and there’s a certain depth to it. Whilst it’s not entirely obvious, there’s weight to this music – speaking volumes on behalf of the production value.

The lucid flow of this record portrays a gritty background in urban city life. This could be the work of a London or New York urbanite producer. There’s very little to highlight the sunny, continental vibes of a Madrid native. There’s a mesmerizing mystique that opens up the darkness and imagination of well-produced electronic music. Under knowingly seeks expansive responses from such minimal sound.

Each track turns a page with distinct consistency yet by using a diverse, minimal range of tone. The bass drives the rhythms, which mechanically overlay with notes and heavy metallic chimes. Bola 6.1. proves more dynamicity from Under, with an almost score-like vibe. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have been experimenting along similar electronic, pulsing routes. 6.2. is a mirrored version of the track, with alternative effects persuading us it isn’t just a time-filler.

By the end of this record, I can’t help but wonder what difference vocals would make. They’ve certainly proved not to be a necessity, but perhaps one track to experiment with would’ve been a well-rounded and acceptable addition.

Despite not being an album to dance away to or have the time to play on a daily bases, Under’s sound is fascinating and patient. Any electro absorbing-types will soak themselves up in this, whether during a commute, late at night wanting to drift off or as a productive backdrop to something creative. If not, it’d fit just nicely in David Fincher’s next movie.

- James Uden

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