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Porcelain Opera

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Album Review

The latest artistic identity from Jeff Witscher, Rene Hell, gives him a chance to meld a variety of strands of electronic music — from cryptic space rock variants to post-glitch instability — into a brief, strong album. But the dominant feeling of Porcelain Opera might, if anything, be tied into the revival of interest in what's been tagged as minimal synth — over the album's six songs, Witscher seems to be aiming for a kind of suggestiveness in his music, almost encouraging a listener to lean forward so as to catch more. Most of the songs readily aim at a kind of immediate unease, with whirling vocal samples — or perhaps even less readily identifiable sounds — matched with restrained, ominous tones. Sometimes, as on "Prize Mischief Hold," beats add a rumbling drive to the combination; at other points, as on "C. G. Mask," it's more free-floating strangeness. Not everything is aiming at gloom and doom, though — "IV 18:54" first introduces a full dreaminess that is just that, instead of a strange nightmare, a glazing of keyboards and textures that gently mutates. "L. Minx," the penultimate song, acts as a good balance point between the impulses, first providing more stretched out melancholy that shudderingly shifts into a calmer zone as if a climax has been achieved. In all, it's an intriguing, enjoyable listen, and if Witscher wishes to continue work in that vein, results could be all the more involving.

Porcelain Opera, Rene Hell
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