When compiling a collection celebrating the 20th anniversary of his Planet Mu label, Mike Paradinas discovered an entire album’s worth of material that was recorded in the late ‘90s but never released. How exactly does a collection of 17 songs, lasting an hour and 18 minutes length, become forgotten? Especially when it was created in the spirit of µ-Ziq’s highly detailed brand of electronic dance music? It’s not as if Aberystwyth Marine is some half-assed, tossed-off mish-mash of demos meant to please only Paradinas and his most forgiving loved ones. No, Aberystwyth Marine is a µ-Ziq album through and through. While not being the greatest release attributed to that moniker, this long-lost runt could never be mistaken for the work of anyone else.
Paradinas estimates that the songs on Aberystwyth Marine came into being sometime between Lunatic Harness and
Royal Astronomy. I’d be taking the easy way out by saying that this “new” album doesn’t measure up to either of its late’90s brethren, but it wouldn’t be very fair if that’s all one could say about it. Aberystwyth Marine is still just as capable of taking you on a long, bizarre trip with lots of twists and bends. From time to time, you will experience more turbulence than you bargained for. Some of the detours will go on longer than is necessary. But when you make it to end, you can step out of the vehicle satisfied that you made a one-of-a-kind journey—all with a map that Mike Paradinas made more or less by accident.
“Fucked Off Again” kicks door the door, asking “Anybody here order hard-breaking glitch-step?” Paradinas reels the line in slowly onthe deceptively named “Petronas Hardstep” (“and here, sir, is your side of ambient…”). Aberystwyth Marine grows a little more pop-inclined early on with the chilltronic anthem-in-waiting “To the Light” and the weirdly jubilant “Die Tomorrow”. On the downside are moments where Paradinas stretches the length of his songs without taking advantage of the space they allow. “Hany Pokery”, “Jiggery Panky”, “You Could Smell It”, and especially “Yumm” all could have been cut in half to no one’s detriment. But it’s so easy to forgive him these faults when “Soft Pipes Play On” drifts in towards the end. Between this and “Die Tomorrow”, this is the µ-Ziq we all gladly pay money for.
Considering the context, Aberystwyth Marine is a pretty good album. If it were billed as an official µ-Ziq release that came from a more recent recording session, it might rank just a few notches below the pretty good mark. If Aberystwyth Marine represents what Mike Paradinas kinds hiding under the bed among the dust bunnies, it should give us pause to recognize the quality of his top-shelf material. In the meantime, this “new” collection should provide you with at least a handful of new favorites.
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