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Bones Review

by Paul Simpson

Bones is the second album by Datach'i (Joseph Fraioli) following a decade-long gap between releases, and his first recording since he relocated from New York to Los Angeles. The album has a more personal tone than his past works, as it was written after his father died of cancer. More outwardly melodic and even sensitive than past Datach'i releases, Bones is nevertheless playful and celebratory, if far more reflective. As with 2016's astonishing System, Fraioli crafted the album using his custom-built Eurorack modular synthesizer setup, and while the pieces are as immaculately designed as ever, there's much more of a human touch to them than recordings by other IDM artists. These are concise songs rather than sprawling, algorithmically generated jams. The melodies tend to be bright and expressive, and the beats are complex and intricate without being overwhelmingly aggressive or challenging. On a few songs, Fraioli incorporates samples from a guitar that he bought for his father shortly before his death, resulting in the jittery rainbow of "Motion in the Living Room" as well as the creaking, uneasy "Undimension" and the MBV-like séance "Arrivals." "Rockledge 3A" begins with relaxing Boards of Canada-esque melodies, then surprisingly develops a thumping 4/4 beat after a couple of minutes. "Drone Maze" lives up to its title, as a labyrinthine web of micro-beats are woven along with unearthly textures, yet it's still approachable rather than scary and imposing. "4X1" is a bit darker and stranger, with an ominous bass pulse vibrating underneath a scattered yet pristinely controlled array of fragmentary beats. Bones is Fraioli's most mature work, but it's just as adventurous as anything else he's done.

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