Ital Tek Hollowed
Alan Myson's latest sees him spiraling further than ever from clubland constraints.
Majestically melancholy waves of sound, grounded by a constant rustle that recalls the warmth of a favorite old records and the comfort of a gentle rain in equal measure—those are the first sounds you hear on “A Delicate Balance,” the lead track from the new full-length from Brighton’s Alan Myson, better known as Ital Tek. A slow, deliberate rhythm builds; layers of harmonics gradually add to the power of the of the melody, before it all quickly fades into somber silence. The very next song, “Redeemer,” has the feel of archaic religious ritual, its arcane, layered over ominous drones and skeletal percussion. In other words, Myson has traveled a long way from the dubstep musings of his first couple of albums, 2008’s cYCLiCAL and 2010’s Midnight Colour; he’s even largely moved on from the (vaguely) dance-music experimentation of his last two efforts, 2012’s Nebula Dance and the following year’s Control; Instead, with the new Hollowed, Myson seems more intent in conjuring up ineffable, primordial emotions—and, while he’s at it, creating a sweeping sonic signature that’s both focused and wide-ranging.
In truth, Myson never seemed particularly interested in dubstep or any of the other templates he’s flirted with—footwork, drum & bass, garage and more—as mere club fodder. Those were always stepping-off points, more a base from which to corkscrew out. But on Hollowed, his starting point has, for the most part, changed; he’s often spiraling out from something more akin to drone or ambient music. (Myson’s constructed the album, in part, from textured, effected washes of sound that he coaxed from his guitar.) “Nex” is punctuated by peels of bell-like tones, cutting through a base of flowing tones and frazzled hum; the church-like timbre and heartrending melody of the all-too-brief “Vesper” give it an air of gentle dignity; “Reflection Through Destruction” ominously lashes scraping electronics to a spectral melody, with a sparse breakbeat kicking in about three-quarters of the way through to give the track a propulsive push.
That’s one of the release’s handful of cuts that hints at his somewhat more dance-music–oriented past—another, more forceful example is “Beyond Sight,” with pulses of grinding rhythm cutting through lavish atmosphere, all anchored by a steady beat. The throbbing “Cobra,” meanwhile, is the heaviest song of the set, a sex-magick monster defined by its throbbing low end and sawtooth attack. Those tracks, and a handful of others, are the album’s outliers—but still, there’s a cohesiveness here hard to miss, an emotionally-charged aura and elegantly precise feel that runs from Hollowed’s surging opening notes to its final, poignant fade.