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White Noise: Austin Cesear – Cruise Forever

Monday, 27 August 2012

Austin Cesear – Cruise Forever

Label: Public Information

This has been an uncommonly fine year for explorative techno music; from Donato Dozzy & Neel’s superbly organic Voice From the Lake to Actress’ masterful meditation on death RIP to Darling Farah’s uncompromisingly dark debut LP Body. Thankfully, this is a trend that shows no sign of letting up, the year not only holds a new LP from bizarre virtuoso Lukid but also this; the debut album from an unknown producer from San Fransisco. It’s easy to see why Austin Cesear was snapped up by UK label Public Information, his analogue-centric productions have a nostalgic gauze that offer techno tropes mixed up in the form of a strange but complete vision of a mystifying and exciting future. Throughout his glittering debut, Cesear gyrates between techno and ambient sections but mostly dwells somewhere in between, resulting in an album that’s as beautiful as it is paranoid.

The Groove

Opener Cloud Hall introduces itself with shimmering monochrome atmospherics, chopped-up noise slowly 
building to a warm bass bounce and subtle melodic variations. Although the decayed style draws comparisons to the likes of Actress and Andy Stott, Cesear effortlessly creates a sound that is entirely his own, and offers a series of increasingly mesmerising curveballs as the album progresses. In fact, this unpredictability is what impresses most across the LP, he’s a new enough producer to still be establishing and experimenting with his sound, but accomplished enough to make each variation confident and successful. After the electronic creaks and ominous static of brief interlude If You Knew What Would You Do, second track-proper The Groove takes an abrupt left-turn; a subdued affair that gives more than a passing nod to the ghosts of Chicago house. The woozy strings add a deeply unsettling atmosphere to the minimal beats, accompanied by rips of static and pitched down vocals that intone ominously into the nervy darkness.

Peralta Palace

The sounds are just as exciting as the structures here, with Cesear surprising for the fifth time in five tracks in Peralta Palace, a masterful construction (a little reminiscent of 2562’s Air Jordan) where the percussion is formed by a long loop that sounds like the rhythmic clank of machinery. This is gradually overlaid by a synth note that wails out almost like the Muslim call to prayer, and sporadically, a heartstopping bass throb. The narcotic, disorientating effect of the track is precisely what Cesear does so well time and again across Cruise Forever; to create intoxicating combinations of sounds that are woven together fluidly, always surprising and changing the formula to keep the listener on their toes.

Cesear takes in many dance tropes but uses them, like a cleaner version of Actress, to dreamier and more beautiful ends – balancing swift changes with minute details such as shifting rhythms and mutating synths that twitch almost imperceptibly. The Beast is one of the most out-and-out dance numbers on offer, a thrashing ride that through chopped, half-heard vocals that feels like it is releasing a lifetime’s worth of coiled, percussive energy before its abrupt end. Shut In is the glittering nine-minute centrepiece of the album, which lies suspended in ambient synth sweeps before slowly hypnotising the listener through a surprising airy rhythmic loop in a field of bubbling, ever-changing synths.

Shut In

Despite the impressive diversity of tunes and structures, the album feels very coherent, united by an overall feeling of different experimentations cut from the same sonic cloth. This is greatly helped by the fantastic interludes the bridge the main tracks, often utilising dark, beatless spaces such as the frightening  grinding of Forest Forever or the hazy drone of Mountain Ascension. If the whole album gives one the impression of a monochrome glimpse of the future, the final two tracks pair together to chart its collapse, with the twinkling glass-shards of In The Depths Of The Ocean Is Our Capitol passing into the restrained dub clanks of Travellers In Faith Dub.

There’s a lot that impresses across the course of Cruise Forever, from the diverse structures and sounds to the surprisingly coherent effect the album has when listened to as a whole. Cesear’s masterful hand retains control over his sounds throughout this classy debut despite its unhinged, decaying sounds, resulting in a wildly unpredictable debut that is all the more impressive for its confidence and unerring success.


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