Is brevity ever a bad thing? In a (critic’s) perfect world, the way for an artist to whet the appetite of the adoring public is through swift and decisive exposure. An EP is a tricky item, and better suited for certain, remix-worthy genres than others. It’s an easy format for an electronic artist, but, because of the abbreviated length, there’s far less room for enthralling dynamism—if it’s repetitive or incoherent, you’re screwed. That being said, it’s a true accomplishment for an artist, especially one who employs no vocals or lyrics, to convince you in a mere 21 minutes that their work is something to behold.
Adrian Michna, a member of Ghostly International’s roster of clever sonic-collage producers, has followed up his 2008 full-length debut, Magic Monday, with two additional EPs scattered over the course of the three intervening years, and now with this month’s micro-release, Moving Mountains. The latest is, by EP standards, a compact listening experience—containing only four fully developed tracks, each segueing so well that it becomes difficult to discern the conclusion of the last, and when the EP quiets to a halt, it feels as if time has practically evaporated from your day.
Moving Mountains works with his customarily varied sonic palette, but whereas previous tracks openly incorporated a syrupy sexiness—lady-noise samples, funky horn breaks, juicy beats—Moving Mountains is a cleaner, almost cinematic experience. The opener, aptly titled “Titanium Glaciers,” builds on ominous-sounding synths in creating a subtle tension that recalls the ambivalent mood of a classic Boards of Canada track. The only selection to foreground a human-voice sample is the titular refrain in “Wanted Exotic”—which also serves as the EP’s only near-dance tune. The track crescendoes, like any good house jam, into a tinny European-ambulance wail, and cools off with a bright and simple melody before collapsing into a breakdown midway through. “Through the City on the Edge of Forever” works slowly through ice-cold synths and horn punches to create a sound that almost explicitly references a New Order standard. And the closer, “The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale,” named for a highly sought Magic: The Gathering playing card, begins and ends its ambient, misty journey through found sounds of churning rain and birdsongs in an English glen.
This Michna EP, with its changing moods, organic samples, and steady hooks, proves him to be a methodical artist, who takes enough time to recharge his aesthetic and collect fresh material between releases, and now delivers just a rapid glimpse of all the places he could go next.