Miles Whittaker

Faint Hearted

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Miles Whittaker had been at the forefront of British experimental electronic music for over ten years before he released this album under his own name. Recording as a member of Pendle Coven, Demdike Stare, and Hate, and solo as Suum Quique, Millie, and MLZ, he was one of the key figures of the cult label Modern Love, through which all of his releases under these monikers came out, and which also released Faint Hearted. Picking up where he left off after his 2011 debut solo EP Facets, this album reads like a travelog of Whittaker's journey through the many facets of electronic music -- hardcore, techno, ambient, industrial -- with no track sounding like the one before it. Opener "Lebensform" sounds like an old-skool jungle track slowed down and played through a phaser pedal cranked to the max, all cracking, crashing drum hits and unearthly whooshes. "Irreligious" is a dark soundscape which consists of little more than a grimy, wobbling sub-bass riff looped ad infinitum for almost seven minutes, with only the odd crackling percussive element to break the tension. It sounds boring, but is in fact amazingly hypnotic when played at extremely high volumes. One of the album's stand-out tracks is the superbly titled "Status Narcissism." Building from a clattering echo and whoosh that sound like the approach of an oncoming steam train, it morphs into an unstoppable, reductionist techno banger guaranteed to fill warehouse floors. It's the album's only real concession to the dancefloor, though, as the other disc is taken up with somewhat more ambient material -- although it's "ambient" only in the loosest sense of the word, as the lush, melodic backgrounds are regularly punctuated with powerful percussive attacks. "Archaic Thought Pattern 1" is another standout, as haunting, looped, almost classical cello drones are layered with dubbed-out snare drum hits that gradually explode into raw, overdriven distortion. The album ends with the cosmic analog synth-scape of "Loran Dreams," taking the sounds of Vangelis or Giorgio Moroder to their logical conclusion. This record is essential for Whittaker's fans, and should also please anyone interested in forward-thinking electronic music, as there's pretty much something for everyone. Its eclecticism may mean that it sounds more like a collection of tracks than a cohesive album -- but when the tracks are this good, who's complaining?

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