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Neotropic: White Rabbits

Neotropic: White Rabbits

Label:Mush Records
Release Date:2004

By Tony Ware | Posted 12/22/2004

If a precision quartz apparatus governed dreams, electro-acoustic producer Riz Maslen, aka Neotropic, would be the cosmic tinkerer setting the kinetic Morpheus mechanism in motion. Maslen’s gentle movements are like inner-city tai chi, adroit drifts set to a mellifluous metronome. White Rabbits, Maslen’s fourth full-length to date, furthers her deft lab studies in ambient dub.

Formerly signed to Coldcut’s London-based Ninja Tune subsidiary Ntone, Maslen has made the move to North America’s Mush Records, an equally well-seeded petri dish of beat-based crossbreeding. The move is well suited, not because Maslen’s dabbled in boom-bap blip-hop, but because the aqueous Mush aesthetic applies to Maslen’s ability to epoxy acoustic resonance to electronic relevance.

White Rabbits is governed by a ripple effect on tracks such as “New Cross” and “Magpies.” Laying a steady, stealthy, but not aggressive martial beat as center of gravity, Maslen delicately flicks pensive piano, aching violin, gauzy glockenspiel, and reverb-flecked acoustic guitar into an elastic orbit. On the initial four tracks, the sounds spread like frost across glass, forming a delicate latticework.

Midway through the album, the pensive mood transmutes to paranoid, and White Rabbits becomes unsettlingly intimate. The pointillist palette of tracks such as the demurely wailing “Feelin’ Remote” act as a sort of crystalline stereogram; relax your eyes, and become flooded with goose pimples. The album closes on a stark skitter, plucked strings bowing atop an eerily billowing shroud of dissonant shutters. White Rabbits is a time bomb of tightly wound exactitude ticking beneath a prismatic wash of uncertainty, affecting in its concentration of Maslen’s free-flowing tensions.

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