Review ·

In all of Depth Affect's skittishness and glitchy arrangements, the French quartet is unable to conceal an enthusiasm for stateside hip-hop. On Arche-Lymb, the group's first full-length, Depth Affect explores stuttering electronic compositions, laden with synth melodies, deejay handiwork, organic instrumentation, and often chopped, fragmented vocal pieces. At the core of the group's meanderings into instrumental experimentation are volleying drum sequences and the inevitably audible mark of American hip-hop.


For the most part, Arche-Lymb excels in its instrumental experimentations, and it shares niceties in brief, beat-less tracks, too. "Vladgorythm Suicide" does such over an ambient bed of rolling synths, an occasional dog bark, and pulsing distant clicks that are subbed in for percussion purposes. "Castor's Lesson" is another whirling, pitch-shifting synth trip that, if only temporarily, serves as tangible evidence that this outfit isn't merely tramping around in Scott Herren's undergarments late at night. Though Depth Affect sometimes gushes with a loose interpretation of the choppy breakbeats and glued vocal bits of Herren's Vocal Studies & Uprock Narratives in its sometimes austere melodies (similar to the simple beauty in the Autres's The Noise & The City compilation), the sonic rail of interesting split-speaker buzzes, vocal samples, and echoing chirps augments the record's sneaky hip-hop base.


Beat-maker Alias is said to be an advocate of Depth Affect's work, and that explains (a) his vocal lending on "Wyoming Highway," and (b) Depth Affect's healthy understanding of Alias & Ehren's Lillian, as demonstrated here, on "One Micron Bar Head." The deep, introductory synth buzz and clicking high-end claps on this number reek of Anticon's prime producer, and the quick decks-work here won't hurt nuthin', neither. "Sarah Carbone" quietly surges out of the same slow build, with an innocent sea of bleary, fuzzed-out bleeps and stuttering synths for its opening and a frenzied peak of Prefuse-esque vocal edits before a somewhat dark set of synthesized strings brings the house down, Alfred Hitchcock style -- all this over an unmistakably hip-hop arrangement of Mush Records-style beats. The album might benefit from a little less Prefuse treatment, because Depth Affect's most memorable ventures are those that come from the vast idea machine that surfaces only too infrequently on Arche-Lymb.



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