After taking a year away from writing his own material following the brilliant Hollowed in 2016, Ital Tek (aka British producer, Alan Myson) realized he needed to find a new approach to writing. Rather, than treating it as a job, he went back to the idea of music as a hobby, sketching out ideas and writing in quick bursts whilst working on other projects. To that end, he felt he needed to create a very definite sonic framework for any new music he created.
By doing so, he has managed to create an album that inhabits its own place, but that is also indefinable. He has taken the physicality and geometry of his sound and created complex, atmospheric, otherworldly soundscapes that feel as if they are actively eschewing any common physical rules.
Rather aptly, opener “Adrift” evokes the feeling of floating, unanchored in a small boat with its low key swirls of tranquil synths and sampled acoustic sounds. As with the rest of the album, there is an ever-present sense of wonder as meandering synths rub shoulders with more claustrophobic, deep chords and the crackle of distant percussion that heighten the drama akin to seeing dark, storm clouds blocking out the sun.
“Become Real” opens with oscillating synths and the regular punch of percussion, which falls and ripples like the constant splash of raindrops. Before long the looped, choral, samples become ever more intense as the track surges, becoming a tempest of percussion. It’s as evocative and dramatic as electronic music can get, sounding more like the soundtrack to an art installation than a recognizable techno album.
“Cipher” is a beautifully, dark exploration of space and depth. With sounds reverberating around cavernous expanses like darting beams of torchlight. Soon fluttering synths and tinny, quickfire percussion fill the gaps like a gathering swarm of insects. Perspective continues to shift as boundaries and edges seem to disappear, erased by disorienting, backward tape loops and stuttering vocal samples
“Lithic” opens with the dull thud of pads joined by shocks of sound and a single high-frequency beep, like the steady blip of a heart monitor. The song cautiously inches forward, growing in drama as if battling for its very life. After the calming tranquility of “Isolation Waves”, the trepidatious “Vanta” raises the tension. It’s an intricately layered piece with enormous, capacious spaces between the instruments. Yawning, vast synths sound positively monolithic, fortified by off-kilter beats and circled by bright, sparkling notes.
The epic, “Across Time”, initially flames with skittering beats that threaten to engulf the track before being blown out, as if by the gentle swirls of synths that float and glide around it. As the song sinks into a thick, murky gloom, the beat suddenly reignites chased by a sharp keyboard motif. On the edgy “Hymnal”, he scaffolds an interlocking frame from seemingly, ever expanding, glitchy synths. At its conclusion the track suddenly stops, evoking that sudden rush that comes from falling from a great height.
The dizzying, “Blood Rain” expands and contracts with sampled instruments spring into life before suddenly dying. With orchestral-like swells of haunting synths, listening to it becomes an almost a transcendental experience. Like much of the album, it is characterized by the contrast between tranquility and anxiety. There are sweeping moments of blissful calm shattered by sheer heaviness like a weighty boulder falling into a calm pool. A feeling perfectly illustrated by “Prima” which descends into a frayed, nightmare as the siren-like synths seem to chase the listener. The track becomes continually more anxious and cramped, as escape seems more and more unlikely.
The title track, “Bodied” grips with deep, bold chords that flatten everything before it with what sounds like the metallic clinking of a thousand spoons. Album closer “The Circle Is Complete” sounds positively enormous. The heavy smashes and crashes of sound mixed with a crystalline synth line summons the feeling of standing before a gigantic iceberg and watching it break off with pieces crashing into the sea.
On Bodied, Ital Tek frees himself from the limitations of time and place, creating atemporal, amorphous tracks that exist somewhere wholly new. The indeterminate nature of the music he creates, adds to the general sense of wonder. Sounds seem to drift in a non-definable void yet are so vividly and meticulously constructed.
Throughout Bodied, Ital Tek impressively directs the various parts like a conductor standing before a vast orchestra. As a result, it feels less like an album than a suite of movements, more akin to avant-garde, classical music than anything remotely approaching traditional electronic music. In that way, he has skillfully managed to reinvent himself further on an album of breathtaking scope and vision.