Ty Lumnus - Phase Music

Released: July 5

The name of this latest album from the Glasgow-based modular synth artist Ty Lumnus derives from a very specific technique he used to create it. According to his explanation, each song on the album take two separate tracks that vary slightly in tempo and plays them together at the same time.* This description makes it sound like it may be a little jarring, but its quite the opposite. From a broad perspective, the music is rather soothing and light. But once you narrow in on the details, a whole new and multi-layered world comes into view. The slight variations in tempo cause these interesting incidentals in the compositions. An established melody or motif will suddenly be intersected by another, causing the smallest clash that resolves and reoccurs as the dual tracks play out together. Its a beautiful little experiment that has yield some excellent ear candied results.  

Each track is named as a number. There is no explanation here, but from what I can gather, this may be the midpoint between the two diverging tempos (purely my assumption). For some of the tracks, the variation is just slightly perceptible. But for others such as "147," the variation is intense. It feels much like two songs colliding gracefully into one another, with one possessing a strong backbeat and the other sending the listener drifting into ambient soundscapes. There are others that pull even deeper tricks such as "146," which include some rather vocaloid synths (possibly even just manipulated vocal recordings). But the way this track plays with the elasticity of its timing is superb. It comes across as rather cinematic on the one side but also opens up with a bouncing bass tone that morphs slightly as the timing seems to bend around it. 

The final track "151" brings back that prominent beat, only with some heavy echoes on it this time. It similarly plays fast and loose (I mean this as literally as possible) with its rhythm and way in which it warps the sounds around it. Objectively, I know that these pieces are not perfectly in time, but the way the rhythm drive much of it makes it feel like it is forcing the spacey synth into order around it. And this is really the strength of this album - its ability to play tricks on your ear. It makes what is arrhythmic into a well-timed piece. It will play tricks on you and you will probably enjoy it.  

*Correction: Lumnus is actually using 6 instruments that are playing the same melody but at different fractions of the base tempo (1/3, 1/4, 1/2).


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