As shoegaze continues to be filtered through IDM and electronica's circuit boards and computer cables, the genre is simultaneously being mauled beyond recognition and reenergized to a point where originality and beauty collide. Whereas Fennesz and M83, two of the genre's finest, are rife with musical ideas and concepts of sonic reinvention, Dykehouse is hindered by the homogeneity that is found on much of Midrange. Dykehouse's most recent album, however, finds him in the midst of transition between the computer-riddled electronic music of his first album, Dynamic Obsolescence, and the shoegazing futurism that awaits him as he recalls and reinterprets the hazy underworld of that genre first purveyed by My Bloody Valentine, Curve, and Medicine.
"Signal Crossing", Midrange's first track after the short, preparatory intro, serves as a sonic table of contents of what the album has packed into its subsequent 14 tracks. Deep, synthetic bass shakes the song's foundation while drum machines stomp a predictable beat through the track and treated guitars swathe "Signal Crossing" in layers of electronic-induced feedback. The track, like most of Midrange, is simultaneously futuristic and traditional as it adheres to shoegaze's trademark distorted guitars and weightless, dreamy vocals while invigorating it with an electronic undercurrent that seethes through the track in the form of rhythmic time-keeping.
Much of Midrange surveys similar musical terrain with the occasional ambient interlude dispersed into the tracklisting. Those segues, such as "Sandy Strip" and "Garden", are surprisingly effective, though, and make up for their shortened length in terms of sonic depth and appropriate mood setting. They drift and drone, attempting to achieve the much needed diversity in Midrange, but ultimately fail as their ideas are, unfortunately, not expanded and maximized to full effect.
Midrange's other notable tracks include the radio-leaning first single entitled "Chain Smoking". What Dykehouse seriously lacks in adept lyric writing skills �- lines such as "I tried to undo your pants/ And ended up crushing your glands/ Can't let go of what you say/ Of how you wish that I was gay" litter the song -� he makes up for in the catchiest melody on Midrange. On "Chain Smoking", the propulsive beats and atmospheric guitars merely filter into the backdrop as the vocals protrude into the forefront �- which is both a blessing (considering the hooky vocal melody) and a disaster (with the atrocious lyrics in mind). Midrange, essentially, hints at enticing stratospheres of sound in the form of Dykehouse's melding of the synthetic and electronic with the natural and beautiful, but fails to fully realize the potential that he hints at. I can only hope that Midrange is merely a glimpse of Dykehouse's conversion into a future that will further explore shoegaze's unreal heights of beauty with the progressive tendencies of modern technology in a way that excuses Dykehouse's lyrical blunders altogether.