A superb collaboration between two dance heavyweights...
'The Night Land'

Having first met in the midst of the hectic club and festival DJing circuit, John Talabot and Axel Boman soon discovered they were kindred musical spirits. Each producer had already carved out a niche of their own; Talabot with his electronica-infused house, featured on his stand-out LP ‘Fin’, and Boman with his nocturnal club meditations, emotively present on his LP ‘Family Vacation’.

Yet, 2014’s debut ‘Sidereal’ EP saw both producers come together in a truly collaborative fashion, producing a percussive, dance floor-ready selection that highlighted previously untapped elements of each artist’s musical arsenal. For fans of this Talaboman project, a debut LP has been eagerly anticipated, and now over two years later, ‘The Night Land’ is due for release on R&S Records.

Rather than the up-tempo, melodically-charged movement of ‘Sidereal’, it is immediately clear that the productions offered on ‘The Night Land’ differ in their content and intended effects. Where ‘Sidereal’ saw a density of instrumentation, expertly layered to crescendo and diminish for placement in a mix, ‘The Night Land’ takes these building blocks and then pares down elements to leave a more pensive, minimal affair, dictated by the wider range of playing possibilities latent in the LP format.

Opener ‘Midnattssol’ builds beautifully from ambient chimes and background percussion into an eerily atmospheric synth line that sets a sweeping cinematic theme for the rest of the record. The following number, ‘Safe Changes’ continues with the filmic vibe, referencing Boards Of Canada in its four-note synth loops which fade in and out over a minimal drum beat to tantalise the listener with a climax that never quite materialises, instead fading into a dissonant sample and provocative voice-over.

The record isn’t all atmospheric soundscape though, as both producers also showcase their talents for crafting club tracks on cuts like ‘Samsa’, which, although the longest production on the record at over 10 minutes, is perfectly paced for a 3am placement amidst too much dry ice on a sweaty dance floor. ‘Loser’s Hymn’ also references said dance floor, this time at the end of the night, as the track bubbles beneath a heavy synth and twinkling melodies to enable a trance-like state in the listener, locked into the grid of the programming.

Final track, ‘Dins El Llit’ sums up the record perfectly, combining the enticing undercurrent of aggression needed for dance floor movement with an overarching positivity that manifests in the floating top-line of the song. Talaboman don’t make tracks that provide for an easy pay-off in an ear-splitting ‘drop’ but instead play with listeners’ expectations, harnessing subtlety as their means of movement.

Talabot and Boman explain that the reason the LP has taken over two years to produce is because they wanted to only make the tracks together, in the same room, rather than over email. This preference for impulsiveness and reaction off of one another when making their music comes through in the warm, emotive feel of the whole record. For instance, whilst Talabot’s electronica influences come through on the chugging backbeat of tracks like ‘Six Million Ways’, Boman balances this out with his propensity for dream-like sonic explorations on the ironically named ‘Brutal Chugga-Chugga’. Despite being comprised of electronics, the record doesn’t have a clipped, digital feel to it, instead ‘The Night Land’ sounds like a work of imagination and sincerity, rather than an inward journey of isolation.

The pair explain that there is no motive or message behind the record, instead it is the imprint of "two persons meeting and playing music, a Catalan and a Swede talking ‘blip blop’ until we felt that we had something worth saying". That ‘something worth saying’ makes for a refreshingly open collaboration, one that is open to interpretation by listeners and one that will surely deepen and grow in complexity on further rotations.

9/10

Words: Ammar Kalia

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