Electric Birds

Strata Frames

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The eclecticism of Electric Birds' fantastic debut is still absent, but on Strata Frames, Mike Martinez moves closer to perfecting aspects of his sound. Though much of this material was released elsewhere in EP form, Strata Frames is actually more unified and cohesive than any other Electric Birds release. Far superior to the disappointing Panorama, Strata Frames is a deep investigation of the possibilities inherent in glitch-laden ambient music. Beats are present here and there, but they're used for timbral shading as much as rhythm, and none of the tracks approach the upbeat tempos or house structures flirted with on Panorama. Strata Frames is thick with texture, mostly in the form of inventive synth patches and strategically deployed bits of noise and static. The immersive, wavering drones that snake through "Pitch Patterns" are as comforting as a thick blanket, and the track's clipped percussion is reminiscent of Jan Jelinek in its ability to carry great emotional content in the smallest of packages. "Stem" finds Martinez crafting gurgling, sub-aquatic dub that retains an amniotic layer of warmth while suggesting an undercurrent of loneliness. Slightly more menacing are the clanking industrial textures and sampled voices that permeate "Strom," the atypically unsettling track that brings the album to a close. Without a single weak track, Strata Frames is a confident and thoroughly beautiful record of ambient electronic music.

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