[sic] Magazine

Dryft – Ventricle

n5MD boss Mike Cadoo’s new album under his Dryft moniker is one of those records where at first you feel a bit awed by its majesty, then as it progresses, you feel more and more depressed. Repeat listens feel like an emotional endurance test. Pushed for a genre descriptor, I’d say ‘industrial ambient electronica’, but the best way I can describe the feeling of listening to this music is as follows.

Opener ‘Recalcify’ sets the scene of drifting (ahem) above the clouds as vaporous synth washes churn below. In the distance, a meteor shower of crisp, skittering drum patterns begins puncturing the clouds – it’s disruptive, but not enough to ruin the ride. You feel quite content to settle in for hour of this stuff.

But no – things get more and more bleak from the get-go. Aside from the silly big-beat intro of ‘Knives As Gifts’, which makes me think of some of the music from The Mighty Boosh , this music is relentlessly serious and melancholic. Granted, there’s something gorgeous and vaguely kosmische about those synths, but when paired with the frantic, harsh beatwork, it all feels a tad apocalyptic, like a soundtrack to Terminators rising up and crushing humanity.

Some variation to the formula does crop up occasionally. There’s a hint of high-gain guitar chug in the background of ‘Vector Step [Regeneration]’ and some of the more detailed rhythm tracks are reminiscent of ’90s electronica producers Mike Paradinas and Luke Vibert . There are also shades of contemporary shoegaze-influenced murk like The Sight Below and even Tim Hecker’s darker moments. Rare evidence of humanity emerges in ‘Transmission’ as a foreign radio snippet, but this is soon subsumed by depressing synth ache. It all feels a bit distant, disconnected and, well, sad. What it reminds me of most is Ben Frost’s work with School of Emotional Engineering before he left Melbourne for Iceland. And what a depressing record that was.

So, an affecting release, for sure, but one that I can’t say I enjoy that much. When the end times come, perhaps I can stick this on and it’ll really click. For now, with economic crisis and natural disasters everywhere we turn, it’s all too much for this fragile soul.