There is often a feeling that electronic music should fit neatly into one of three boxes: You’ve got your balls-to-the-wall club bangers, your ambient background beats and finally, you have your less common, but no less relevant, works of avant-garde synth destruction.
In the past artists have concocted cocktails of the different genres to great success, but on Homesick, Ciel takes a different path. Uninterested by mash ups, Ciel instead seems intent on making all three versions of electronica live together in perfect harmony, like some sort of twisted bpm marriage counsellor.
Opener ‘Bamboo’ has a womb-like quality, luscious synth waves wrap around echo warped vocals, coming across as the sort of track Björk would play at home while completing a cryptic crossword. Meanwhile, ‘Gourd’ dips into dance music’s more erratic moments. Driving drum loops and plopping toyshop sub-bass build and build towards a glittering, almost ethereal moment of clarity, reminiscent of Four Tet’s more boisterous mid-career output.
In lesser hands this scattergun approach would make for an entirely disjointed listen, but through a unique use of Chinese analogue instrumentation Ciel manages to expertly tie together a plethora of sounds from dance music’s disparate past. The PlayStation loading screen techno of ‘String’ and the erratic sunrise anthem ‘Metal’ are entirely different in style, but through the use of clever sampling Ciel allows seemingly unsuitable sounds to coexist and thrive.
While in isolation nothing on Homesick is individually breath-taking, as a whole the album succeeds, showing us that all it takes is a bit of good old-fashioned ingenuity for electronic music to thrive outside (and inside) of the box.