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Clockwork Menagerie

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Album Review

Clockwork Menagerie collects 14 assorted isan tracks from various singles, split releases, and compilations released between 1996 and 1999. It's a varied listen thanks to a non-chronological running order. Lush, worldly soundscapes smartly sit alongside lo-fi techno pieces, making it seem that the album was sequenced for maximum trance-inducing effect. While the collection isn't as immediately endearing and certainly not as cohesive as Lucky Cat or Beautronics, many highlights peek out of the album's otherworldly sonic tapestry. The three opening tracks are particularly charmed, as bubbly, slow-shuffling beats mingle with tender, emotional sound effects. "Damil 85" is another standout, with its warped sample of paranoid medical operations and scores of creative blips and bleeps. "Remegio" recalls the band's Morr Music peer Múm with its rolling sound effects and cut-up female voice samples. The album closes with two songs so pristine and fragile that the duo seems to rush at the mantle of Brian Eno to steal his ambient trophies. Clockwork Menagerie is best left unexplored until one has fully appreciated the band's proper full-lengths, but it's nonetheless a rewarding collection of hard to find songs from two artists who easily and consistently prove to be IDM musicians par excellence.


Formed: 1991 in Reading, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Robin Saville and Antony Ryan's releases as ISAN are characterized by simple rhythms, pop-inflected song structures, and strong, committedly analog melodies. Originally from Reading, England, the duo emerged from the electronica underground in the mid-'90s at a time when groups like Autechre and Aphex Twin were bringing increasing levels of abstraction and disjunction to electronic post-techno. Dodging that approach, ISAN joined artists such as Solvent, B. Fleischmann, Sweden's Pluxus, and Krautrock-electronica...
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Clockwork Menagerie, ISAN
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