Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Love Letter To...iTAL tEK

Another article I've written for the405.com in which I detail the reasoning behind my endless, boundless (and potentially ridiculous) love for iTAL tEK. As is now customary, I'm now patiently waiting for him to find it so he can add me to some sort of retraining order.
ENJOY.

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I'm finding it difficult to write about an artist whose music is harsh and brittle, and yet makes me feel so sentimental. I feel like I don't "get" it. Sometimes warmth and familiarity is what we want and expect from music. Sometimes we use it as a comfort or find some small corner of security within a song’s textured walls, and listening to it again and again re-ignites this friendly feeling of companionship. It’s funny then, that I get so much repose and satisfaction from the cold, calculated shards of electronica that Alan Myson, iTAL tEK, spins from his fingers with such apparent ease.

It’s been years since I first came upon his particular brand of broken beats. As a big fan of Terminator 2 (it so happens to be my favourite film, not that anybody asked), his T2 EP made me smile before I even ripped the CD to my hard drive. Since then he’s been an on-and-off favourite of mine as I dip in and out of more experimental genres (and the less experimental too – everybody should have a Friendly Fires phase in my opinion). The joy of this is that every six months or so I find myself re-discovering him and realising he’s released yet more gleaming, twisted, bittersweet break-laden techno-infused electronica to get totally immersed in. Case in point, his recent Gonga EP, which mixes dancehall into his usual disjointed sounds to create something different again. Since moving to a bigger city, it’s only seemed to make more sense, as though being somewhere so artificial only gives it more context. I’m self-consciously aware it’s probably just all the ambient concrete, however.

Love Letter To...iTAL tEK
Alan Myson aka. Ital Tek
 On forcing Midnight Colour on a friend who expressed a fleeting interest in the Blood Line EP and who usually listens to all manner of most-definitely-not-dubstep, she said she liked it because the sounds were so alien. It hadn’t occurred to me before that the reason iTAL tEK’s music seems so special is due to left impurities and an unnaturalness layered all the way through, like sandstone. Often, artists who make music in this off-beat, paranoid style are too quick to alienate the listener entirely. It’s hard to find cold, calculated beats with heart, and to begin with I dismissed Midnight Colour as a stray album pointed at listeners who weren’t taken in by the frankly perfectCyclical. As is usually the case, I was kicking myself three months down the line when I finally gave it a proper chance on a train ride home in the dark. I realised it was just as intricately pieced together as any of his previous work, with aspects of beauty I’d previously thought would only ever exist in tracks like White Mark and Weavefound in Strangelove VIP and Satellite, but with a confidence and security often found lacking in IDM.

It’s his production and his knack for manipulating totally synthetic sounds into something recognisable I most admire. The sheer extent of what could only be assumed is near-crippling perfectionism can be heard in each percussive moth wing-like flutter, and each incredibly spherical kick drum. Spherical is a ridiculous description for a drum I agree, but listen to Archaic and tell me I’m wrong. The sounds in any iTAL tEK track are clear and clean and precise, in a way many electronica/dubstep artists never are these days. As dear to my heart as Burial is, he has swept the dark streets clear to make way for hundreds of badly-tuned radios with barely flickering heartbeats; music that emanates images of dusty forgotten corners and empty car parks and starless yellow-tinged city skies. The point of this style is to only just hold together on listening, as though one stray half-beat could shatter the record to pieces. iTAL tEK chooses to portray brittleness in a totally different way – his tracks can sound purposefully ugly and delicately pristine at the stroke of a snare. Just once it’s nice to see frosty sunrises and the sea at night, and that’s what he does best. He stands out in the cold and embraces it. I could round off with a throwaway sentence about winter, but I won’t. Start with Cyclical, and let his frozen heart tell you stories.

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