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alog, “miniatures”

Artist: alog
Title: miniatures
Release Date: 2005

alog, miniatures, released 2005 by rune grammofon

1) severe punishment and lasting bliss
2) steady jogging of the heart
3) st. paul sessions II
4) the youth of mysterious conversations
5) leyden jar
6) pesce spada
7) buffalo demon
8) change position
9) building instruments

On miniatures, alog’s style has changed significantly; they’ve turned away from using isorhythms as the foundation of their songs and their structures are much more improvisatory and free. And for the first half of miniatures, it works beautifully.

In the opening four tracks, repetition, pulse, and inner quiet are still a fundamental part of their music, but there’s also a much stronger sense of forward momentum and development. And somehow, the combination of stillness and motion inspires ecstasy – not so much in the sense of overwhelming joy as a kind of mystical transport, a kind of rapture[1].

But after “the youth of mysterious conversations”, miniatures is a real letdown, with the exception of a lovely moment in “building instruments” that, unfortunately, quickly fades. The second half feels unfocused, and sparse, basically a tossed salad of real-world samples and sporadic percussion. After the lushness of what came before, it sounds empty and, well, kind of pointless.

Nevertheless, miniatures is well worth listening to for those opening songs, which are just plain beautiful.
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(1) I don’t know what it’s like for other people to listen to music, and any description of a personal experience of a sensation is fundamentally inadequate and incorrect – but when I’m carried away by a piece of music, it’s as if the music and I become the same thing. As if the music is expressing a part of who I am – and as if a part of who I am becomes the music.