What the hell is "Intelligent Dance Music"? Arguably, this describes a style of 90's electronic pop music that sprung up from the earliest roots of Warp and Rephlex records. Their stylistic influence and independent-minded aesthetic had a global impact, the result of which was another indie-rock revolution. The sound of this revolution was a post-rave combination of detailed, headphone-friendly, digital rhythms and Aphex Twin-inspired melodies. As the "IDM"-style of techno-pop approaches its 10-year milestone, one finds that very few have taken the style to the next level. With the exception of a few new labels and artists, the IDM-sound continues to revolve around dark, ambient moods and Aphex-phrases. Thus, many artists in this genre succeed not through innovation, but rather through stylistic uniqueness - something that sets them off from the rest of the pack.
A good case in point would be the brotherly-duo of Marco and Fabrizio D'Arcangelo, who, like their fellow, Italian cohorts Marco Passarani and Bochum Welt, blend their Aphex-isms with a heavy dose of electro-funk.
D'Arcangelo have enjoyed marginal success with releases on Rephlex, Nature, and their own label, Engine. Their new mini-lp Zero To Zero however, is released stateside on Orange Records. This particular release had been held back for years and is now just seeing the light of day. Which makes it difficult to put it in perspective chronologically, and in comparison to their Rephlex masterpiece, "Shipwreck". At any rate, Zero is a good representation of their futuristic sound.
Unabashedlly non-retro, D'Arcangelo update the electro-funk style with sampled, highly stylized drum sounds that jump in and out of virtual space with digital precision. The album's second track "Herserk 6B", finds the brothers D'Arcangelo juggling rattling snares, time-stretched hi-hats, and pounding bass drums to great effect - the best effect of which is their patented "cross-fade" technique which gives their sound a kind of jarring quality that feigns a sense of looseness. Thus, the transitions within each track are unpredictable and always make for an interesting listen.
Another interesting trick that D'Arcangelo use is a rhythmic use of white noise, as heard on the following track "Finux". This low-key number, with its humming synths and electrostatic rhythms, sounds like the intermission from some futuristic broadcast. As a whole, this is a pretty low-key release. Other tracks like "A25" and the title track "Zero To Zero," rely more on mood and cold melodies, allowing for a more subtle approach rhythmically. To top things off, the opening number, "Goodbye L", gets a very nice, digital overhaul from German producer Andre Estermann, who tightens things up a bit.
Overall, Zero To Zero is a good introduction to the dark world of D'Arcangelo. While it's a little bit easier on the ears and rhythmically delicate than some of their other releases, the futuristic vison of the brothers D'Arcangelo remains intact on this domestic release.
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