alog, “red shift swing”

Artist: alog
Title: red shift swing
Release Date: 1999

alog, red shift swing, released 1999 on rune grammofon[1]

01) drifting west
02) 500,000 years ago
03) the travel light
04) expand the heart
05) lonesome train
06) red shift swing
07) popul vuh
08) tuning the piano
09) a regular hexagon is found in the sand on some beach
10) the sun is where the clouds should be

alog is a pair of laptop musicians, Espen Sommer Eide (who performs solo as phonophani) and Dag-Are Haugen. Built out of samples and processed sound, red shift swing is about mood and atmosphere; their tracks are mostly smooth and mellow, occasionally playful. Their main technique is to create isorhythms – slivers of music that are unequal in length and looped so that they relate to each other differently on every repetition – and release them into the wild, letting them do as they will. Unfortunately, isorhythms alone are not enough to make a piece compelling [2].

Their first album is nearly good, and almost interesting. They have lovely and funky ideas, and actively try to do interesting things with rhythm. I like the processing they apply, and the fact that they don’t always apply it; and the sounds they generate are compelling and new without being harsh.

But not enough happens, nor does it happen quickly enough; listening to nothing but isorhythms play out for 3 minutes before a new element is introduced is not very compelling. I do like “the travel light” and “tuning the piano” even though they suffer from similar problems; but the rest of the album is, well, kinda dull. The two come up with great titles, though.

(1) Based out of Norway, they release beautiful, chill electronica…among other things, of course. And their sleeve art – by Kim Hiorthøy, another electronic artist but on a different label – is one of my favorite things about them.

(2) I’ve tried it myself, so I’m an authority.