Monday, March 14, 2011

Alka-- A Dog Lost In the Woods

We wander into Alka's album "A Dog Lost In the Woods" with the first track, "Blueberry", a cheerfully ambling expedition that begins with a steady bass and a brightly syncopated percussion, and rounds out with a humming, dreamy treble.

The second track, "When You Abandon Your Youth", nicely commingles bass with charmingly messy synths, a jumpy percussion, and a twangy guitar. A faint melody tugs at the heart, but the upbeat walking tempo and the clever rhythms keep it from being drab or dark.

Track three, "Collocation", is a brilliantly ambient piece, with enchanting bell-like timbres and a deceptive beat. Alka is particularly exceptional at weaving percussive patterns that evolve and twist throughout his tracks, rather than relying on a change in melody in order to help his songs evolve from section to section.

The fourth track, "I Am a Wreck" begins with a throbbing, soft bass, electric noise, and whispers of high synths that round it out. A sudden shift into harp-like strings elevate the track from its bounciness. The following track "Lucent" has a harder appeal; it pulses rather than thrums. Synths grind and percussive elements pop against a deep bass. The track feels sensuous-- the sound textures are so rich that they're nearly tangible.

"Separate", the six track, opens with bells and faint, distorted vocals. The emerging pattern feels light and tuneful but balanced, and the vocals are eagerly received as an important part of the track, rather than a noisy distraction.

"Immolated" is the otherworldly combination of a tinny rhythm that's supported by a deep bass and gyrating trebles. The noises contract and crunch satisfyingly.

Particularly great moment: "Solip" feels distinctly metallic and schizophrenic, but it somehow manages to feel wonderfully weird and benign rather than menacingly alienating when Alka introduces an ethereal treble into the mix.

"Alpha Pilos" is a notable departure in tone from the tracks preceding-- funky synth that drives the track rather than the trebles or syncopating rhythms. The synth is a simple loop but manages to keep the audience captivated and grooving on it. Its upbeat synthesis of weird sounds is catchy and almost hypnotic, and the track transitions nicely into its segments without losing feel. Another personal favorite.

"Israel" combines a steady, hard beat with electric blasts and a  tinkly, music-box-like chime, and ghostly little harmonies flicker throughout. It's darker and more otherworldly, eerie piece that manages to keep from feeling alienating.

"What Will Become of Your High Existence?" marks a return to the earlier elements of the album, combining intricate rhythms with metallic elements, deep bass, and legato synths. This piece, however, feels a bit more serious than those preceding, and is an exciting and deep foray into sound.

The final track, "Sky, Face Down" is a mellow, shuffling piece sprinkled with bells and plucked strings The faint hint of keys is uplifting and serene, and the shift into an electronic blip variation peppers and livens the track. It's a fitting "zoom out" of the soundscapes that we've heard.

All in all: The changing percussive beats are sure to make any listener revel, and this album is a cheerful and complete enough synthesis of its elements to please even those who prefer pop. 
As an added bonus, listeners pick up on more fun nuances with repeat listens. It's a great album for active and passive listeners alike-- notice as much (or as little) as you like. 

Available on for $8.99 or on iTunes for $9.99. 
You can find more at Reverb Nation and Sound Cloud.

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