Golden Skies

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Over four years passed between the first and second albums from Charles Dickerson, aka Mono/Poly. The extent to which Golden Skies is more complex, finessed, and melodic than the Los Angeles beat scene vet's 2010 set, Paramatma, is striking. The progression can be traced, however, from Dickerson earliest work -- including his remix of Flying Lotus' "Melt!" -- through his 2011 EP debut for Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label, scattered compilation contributions, and collaborations with Flash Bang Grenada, that group's Busdriver, and Thundercat. Paramatma wasn't without its charms, but nothing on Golden Skies comes off as sketch-like, with greater emphasis on billowy atmospheric touches and prickly melodies. Several tracks, like high points "Light Age" and "Dreamscape" -- beat-less but intensely rhythmic -- suggest that Dickerson's reach now extended farther into early experimental electronic music and ambient techno. Some cuts do knock. Opener "Winds of Change" works in layers of percussion, swirling acidic squiggles, and a distant, drawn-out vocal sample, while "Ra Rise" clamps and flutters and "Alpha and Omega," like the Boards of Canada track of the same title, is dizzying and graceful, evoking some kind of heavenward ascent. On "Empyrean," Dickerson pairs up with vocalist Mendee Ichikawa for a twilit ballad that quietly steals the show.

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