E*Rock

Conscious

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With Portland's Audio Dregs having become something of a standard-bearer for easy-on-the-ear electronica since its establishment in 1998, it comes as something of a surprise to find that Conscious is the debut solo album from label manager Eric Mast, who has evidently been otherwise occupied with A&R and an expansive illustration portfolio. That said, his time has evidently been well spent, earning his stripes writing soundtracks for animator Mumbleboy as well as collaborating with Eric Diaz, as Carpet Musics, and Staubgold's Harald Ziegler. Like labelmates Inkblot, Supersprite, and Dim Dim, the music is far from the madding crowd of traditional techno -- E*Rock riding not on an inflexible rhythm or bass track, rather it grows organically from an organic swell of real instrumentation, where shoe-shuffling clicks and shakes of the rhythm section snag upon snippets of flute, guitar, and the occasional vocal inflection of Colleen French. The resultant album is as sublime as can be, with the 40-minute running time over in what feels like a heartbeat.

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