Music

Electronic Producer Datach'i Navigates Loss Beautifully on 'Bones'

Photo courtesy of the artist

Bones is electronic producer Datach'i's most emotionally affecting and poignant album to date. These tracks work as a powerful collective rather than individual experiments with his production reaching new heights.

Bones
Datach'i

Planet Mu

26 July 2019

It must be extraordinarily hard for an electronic artist to summon the focus to create art when living in the long shadow that follows the passing of a loved one. To create richly layered, electronic music is far more complicated than picking up a guitar and articulating your grief over three chords. Electronic music requires precision, attention to detail, and a meticulousness which demands dedication and focus. For New York-based, IDM artist, Datach'i's (aka Joseph Fraioli), he has, remarkably, managed to channel his mourning into his most arresting and accomplished work to date.

Datach'i's follow up to his 2016 System album was written after the passing of his father. It reflects a difficult period in his life where he grappled with the finality of a life lived and what that means for the people left behind. For him, the process of making music helped him deal with the profound sense of loss but also enabled him to keep the memory of his father burning brightly.

As you would expect there is a ruminative thread running through Bones as he ponders the end of one journey and how it impacts on others still making theirs. Musically, the album is distinctively a Datach'i record. Full of gorgeous modular synth work to produce characteristically dreamy, ambient electronics and warm, soothing melodies. However, Fraioli isn't one prone to simply repeating a successful formula. On Bones, IDM percussion blends with jarring synths on tracks that either find a sudden sense of clarity or turn on themselves as if cannibalizing what has come before. In essence, it successfully evokes those thoughts and feelings that must have been spinning around his head when making the record.

The opener, "Akemies" manages the feat of being both dizzyingly kinetic and reassuringly calm at the same time. With washes of ambient synths complimented by IDM electronics, it's a bold, busy start to the album. On "Rhys", Fraioli deftly renders gorgeous, ambient soundscapes. Synth notes float into view as if carried in the breeze before shocks of synths tear past like briefly visible shooting stars.

The more animated "Motion in the Living Room" finds Datach'i sending percussion and synths in opposite directions until they crash into each other, becoming agitatedly entangled. Knotted together, they become more frenetic as if suddenly being charged with electricity until they seemingly burn themselves out, leaving behind only scorched, ambient chords.

On "Rockledge 3A", Fraioli leaves space for a dreamy, analog melody through the layers of fidgety beats and synths. The same is true of "Saiph" where lilting melodies tip-toe through the carefully constructed IDM beats. With slow surges of brass, it's a slowly enveloping joy which serves is a masterclass in how to subtly introduce brief, snatches of instruments to heighten the mood.

On the gentle "Autuminal" he slides all the sonic pieces together like pieces of an intricate puzzle. Once locked together the pieces fuse to form a beautiful, evocative soundscape like a spectacular sonic visage. "Undimension", on the other hand, is far harsher, with volatile electronics slowly constricting around sci-fi synths and booming pads. It's an unnerving listen, as the coiling synths slowly suffocate the track, before the whole thing fractures altogether.

"Drone Maze" opens with spitting sonics and clattering percussion before Fraioli opens the door to laser beam synths that scythe through the track. While a frenetic listen, Fraioli knows the importance of providing little pockets of calm in the chaos, as warming melodies and subdued beats allow the track to regain its composure before darting off in another direction.

"Wand" starts serenely enough before a wall of looming, sharp chords tower over the whole thing threatening to flood it in a wave of electronics. As the music retreats, the track leads into the ominous drone of "4X1". Here, Fraioli builds a lowering soundscape from overcast synths and malfunctioning, glitchy beats. As the song gathers momentum, it sounds like it's devouring itself from the inside out before stuttering to a halt.

"Saugerties Road", named after a street in Ulster County, New York, is far less threatening with ripples of melodious synths that imbue everything in a warming glow. The ambient finale of, "Arrivals", feels like a triumphant return after, an often, fraught, journey. As the surges of vivid chords guide the track to its conclusion, there is a sense of a destination reached.

Bones is, without doubt, Fraioli's most emotionally affecting and poignant, full-length to date. These tracks work as a powerful collective rather than individual experiments with his production reaching new heights. It is also a beautifully rendered IDM album with boldly expansive yet gorgeously rendered tracks that offer plenty of surprises. It's a profound testament to an artist who has navigated the agony of loss and discovered that there are many more rewarding journeys still to be made.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Dancing in the Street: Our 25 Favorite Motown Singles

Detroit's Motown Records will forever be important as both a hit factory and an African American-owned label that achieved massive mainstream success and influence. We select our 25 favorite singles from the "Sound of Young America".

Music

The Durutti Column's 'Vini Reilly' Is the Post-Punk's Band's Definitive Statement

Mancunian guitarist/texturalist Vini Reilly parlayed the momentum from his famous Morrissey collaboration into an essential, definitive statement for the Durutti Column.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?

Music

Datura4 Take Us Down the "West Coast Highway Cosmic" (premiere)

Australia's Datura4 deliver a highway anthem for a new generation with "West Coast Highway Cosmic". Take a trip without leaving the couch.

Music

Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.

Music

Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.

Music

Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.

Film

Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.

Books

Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.

Music

Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.

Film

Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.