Antenna – Quiet Fx (World of Paint, 2019)

The debut release on Palmbomen II’s new label is a big dip into the simmering, warm and feel good deep.

Palmbomen has always presented electronic music within a crafted and balanced manner, with stories and narratives melded in. The sounds and nature of releases seem to match up well with the feelings he looks to create , nurture and curate. This is very much a theme that runs through his music, music that is sonicly deep, analogue in its essence, but also thought provoking and sometimes a bit unexpected. This narrative always seems to take a quick twist or turn, bringing the listener along on some tangent before moving along into another scene or soundscape. This is very much apparent on his 2018 release with Betonkust, the acclaimed ‘Center Parcs’ LP, that drew praise for its boundary pushing, lush lush textures, and gritty beaty nature (that draws from its warm and fuzzy analogue atmosphere). His music also makes us feel, particularly within his ‘Memories of Cindy’ series from 2017, that really pulls at the heart strings in terms of its tones and emotional atmospheres. However this feeling often has to be nursed out of the music, due to its sometimes ambiguous nature, which makes it all the more intriguing. Its this balance that makes Palmbomen’s music so interesting and engaging, allowing us to meet in the middle within this and connect with the tunes on a human level, but leaves enough of the unknown within the music and the narrative itself for us to maintain a connection to it.

His new label, World of Paint, has been described by the man himself as a playground to explore new ideas and notions. The label is to become a platform for Palmbomen and his friends to explore their spectrums of sounds, to build and create together, both from a audial and visual perspective. For the first release, good pal Antenna has served up the goods for his debut LP release. The tunes within this record all flow wonderfully with each other, as textures and tones again play an important part in how the sound jumps out and creates a sense of vibrancy between the headphones or speakers. The progressions are smooth, the chords sound and layered, but each tune always changes the pace slightly and builds on the previous imagery. Always growing, always swelling. Lets take a dip!

We start off with the opener, ‘Tele’. The synths reverb hard within this one, maintaining a steadiness within their swells. It feels like the synth is a wave, swelling and growing in energy, before it softly breaks and a slew of delicate sounds come forth. Its a gorgeous transition, and one that quickly recedes back to a sonic exploration of the nature of that swell. The drums simply add to the intrigue, before the swell drops itself again, more elongated this time, as the swell now has momentum. Up next we have ‘Uncertain and Exciting’, that frames the tune well. Soft drums underlay an ever evolving synth line that cutely grooves on top, and this just keeps on coming. The synth always maintains its journey, as the drums change up slightly every now and then, but again always keep this element of consistency. Its the little things that change, mostly within the middle of the panning in the tune, that make it a really enjoyable journey. Flitered synth pads come in and add that extra dimension, which we didn’t even know we needed. Bliss! Up next is ‘Slavic’, that starts off, ya know, innocently enough. A little bass line, simple in its delivery, only hints at what is gunna be added into the mix. The drums hint, before really delicate keys come driving in, right on time. The pacing of these tunes is on point, and always adding more to the transitions of the tunes. Here is no different, and it is all about the delicacies and sounds of the keys. Such a soft tune, its for those moments where you need to feel something, but can’t quite place the feeling. Up next we have ‘Bird Fx’. Delicacy once again plays a big part here, with a really interesting slowed house beat chiming underneath a series of growing and massing synth lines. The beat evolves just enough to greet the new synths coming into play, with a simple vocal line adding intrigue and additional textures to the tune. Slammin.

‘Factory’ comes next. Slow down tempo drums start us off, before some ghost note guitar lines join in, with those distinctive cymbals. This one has the feels of stylish 80s driving soundtracks, the guitar playing the biggest role here as vocals remain sparse, keys and pads drift softly and never over reach or overpower the other elements. The vocals come back in, only for a split second, as the core of the groove moves us along just perfectly. ‘World that lives’ seems to reflect just that; the softness of the earth as it speaks and reacts to us. The soft chords find an interesting balance between piano and synths, and they provide the most passive yet engaging series of progressions, that sound like the soft and slow breeze. As ‘Summer with C’ kicks in, it feels like the album is moving into a new sense of context. The chords and drums have become softer or non existent, with a larger emphasis on the use of sparse vocals as a core component of tracks. The light drum pads lay the base for an energetic synth line to bubble along on top, with chords moving on strong above the riddims. ‘Do you feel’ is the line repeated throughout, as the hi hats come in just to bring the tune into a new horizon. ‘Soft’ then comes along, and again switches up the vibe once again. Feeling like a dusty Delroy Edwards analogue jam, the emphasis here is placed on the drumming patterns, that grow and swell from the get go. Lyrics again play an important part here, a club ready anthem. Around the half way mark, some signs of emotiveness comes into play, with light chords kicking in that take us all the way to the end. ‘Visa’ follows, and yeh yeh this is real nice. A flitered drum line underlays a cute synth line (or guitar maybe), that is melodically on point, and backed up by some mighty fine drumming. Again Antenna plays into that nostalgic balance of traditional band vibes, with a mixture of the Art School thrown in, then delivered through an electronic spectrum. This delivers some lovingly curated results.

‘They won’t regret’ comes next, and it’s a return to the club. The softer excursions are gone, and replaced by a deep and heavy acid tinged roller. The cymbals and drums big this track up enormously, and the acidness moves fast and slow and deep and high, around the evolution of a seriously good track. Slammin! up next we have ‘Night Shift’, and this one promises to be real good. Little keys and drums start us off, as the bass lines come in and the synths layered on top make for a fantastic balanced tune. The vocals come out of the shadows and murky depths and add real flavour to the tune, as if sunlight is bursting through beautiful dark grey clouds. Now t the business end of the record, as we have ‘Alwaysthere’. Swirling arpeggios run like water down a drain, as the listener is placed right in the middle of the sounds. The soft drums accompany the synths perfectly, as if they are vibing off each other eternally in an endless groove. Finally, we have ‘This Room’. All the energies from this record have been channelled through themes of exploration, the use of vocals and keys to evoke moods and sceneries. A journey that has been fleshed out by the progression of the songs, always taking elements from previous tracks to move the record forward and forward. Here, on the final track, Antenna brings it all back a second, a moment to pause and reflect on what has been digested over the last 50 minutes or so. Keys provide the basis for the track, as it envelopes us one more time within its soft sonic beauty. And just like that, it cuts out, and we are left with the sounds of the world.

This album has a few stages within it, which play out like continual explorations of the musical elements within them. A world is envisaged and enhanced through the various progressions and transitions we experience as the album grows over time. Each track has its own unique feel and quality to it, a almost at times tangible texture that can be felt through to the core. The energy that swells and dims is so wonderful, along with the pacing and grooves to boot, makes for an exceptional debut, and one that signals a very strong start indeed for the new label. Long may it continue.

Support the troops:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: