SubConsciousMind – Intermezzo Extended (Ektoplazm)

Posted in Reviews 2009 by - August 03, 2009



I’m kind of interested in the idea of the Long Tail recently. It’s an idea put forth several years ago by Chris Anderson of Wired, and it’s been quite prophetic as a model for micro-economics, over-the-air download sales, web marketing principles, and indeed — and thank fuck, otherwise I’d be on a hell of a digression here — the music industry.

You can bone up about the Long Tail on Wikipedia, but what I think is relevant for our little weird niche of weird music is that where we’ve previously been accustomed to big-selling records by a handful of acts (GMS et al, and before that the cheque-signing-mad European labels 1996-2002), we are moving toward a model where more and more items are produced, and while sales of individual items will fall, the number of items being sold rises. It’s a redistribution of wealth, a true artistic utopia which could only ever be realised in a time with distribution, production, inventory and delivery costs as low as we have right now.

At the extreme end of the long tail is the concept of the Free Netlabel. As a concept this is of huge benefit to the artistic community, and something that would have been impossible to operate ten years ago.

As an entity, The Free Netlabel recognises that the new role of the record label is not one of copyright control, publishing rights, licensing deals and back catalogues. It extists to connect music and audience; a marketing entity that knows how to make use of distribution channels, social networks and ID3 tags.

Ektoplazm is the field-leader in psychedelic circles, and on the strength of this release it’s easy to see why.

Musically, this is what I guess we’d classify as Newskool Goa, a genre I generally find as completely useless and devoid of integrity as the “cover band” ethos it carries.

SubConsciousMind however, has something different to add into the mix. I’m not entirely sure what it is — but that’s the strong point, the moneyshot, the “something extra” that keeps you entertained and makes you – probably – more likely to donate via the artists website.

Unpredictalizer opens things up beautifully; a laconic, almost lazy opening unfolds and cascades into a pure Anjuna peak with melodies,  energy and swirls over a persistent, failthful rhythm section.  Essenz is an interesting one: Jarresque synths moodify their way over a tight bottomend, before tight acid stabs combine to raise the energy. The fluidity and energy is quite wonderful, although I concede that the closing melodic section is somewhat less so. The track was doing fine without keychanges, but then it’s not up to me.

MyMusic is an extremely strong track. It plays with melodies, it warps around, it’s not afraid to stay in one position where doing so builds tension. It recedes to a cinematic feel before coming cascading back out the speakers at you in one of the most delightful 303 flurries in recent (or even less recent) memory.

Acidlines make another strong appearance on (Out-In)Side, which has some great runs and heaps of imagination flowing throughout, while Past Be Past nods firmly in the direction of Astral Projection.

It all comes together on iRemberem oGa, the track name that’s a bitch to type correctly, so I copy and pasted it off the website. It’s epic — ten-plus minutes of a journey that’s not ashamed to bring in Eastern melodies, not ashamed to open out with the big synths, not ashamed to stick in a keychange here and there. The most confident, up-for-it track on the album, it’s already head and shoulders above a lot of the emotionless dross that masquerades around in an old lycra singlet claiming to be modern Goa.

It’s not without its faults; I’d have liked fatter, heavier mastering and it must be noted that the propensity to introduce melodic climaxes (or should that be climaces?) is occasionally frustrating: SubConsciousMind needs to realise that forced changes simply aren’t needed when your music speaks so well for itself.

There are a couple of important points that I think are raised here.

Firstly, it’s free (in mp3, FLAC, or wav.) This means that SubConsciousMind is having his music broadcast to an infinitely larger number of people than if it was a conventional, pay-for-product release.

Secondly, getting it for free (and a ‘guilt-free free’ at that) DOES feel different. I will concede that speaking of free music is a little ludicrous when most people get all their music for free, but it’s a different experience having an artist and connecting netlabel consent to supplying you with music at no cost. The effect of this, as I hinted above, is that as a consumer you are somehow more likey to PayPal a fiver in the artist’s direction. The psychology is fascinating.

I recommend this album not just because it’s free, and not just because it’s good.

My chief reason for recommending Intermezzo Extended is that like it or not, it does represent a new paradigm in music distribution and one we all need to switch on to and wake up to, more than we are currently doing.

SubConsciousMind, and Ektoplazm, make the Long Tail wiggle enticingly.

Free Download: Ektoplazm | Artist’s Site

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