The latest work from Alberta based An Ant and An Atom, is a long-form ambient piece beginning with dangerous electronic activity that eventually cedes the spotlight to sweeping strings, before finding discordant bliss in some sort of strange middle ground. Although the work juxtaposes various aesthetics and ideologies, Ant and An Atom’s ability to carry melodic development over major shifts in overall sound allows for a sense of continuity amongst the seemingly unstable compositional structure.
A vicious atmosphere begins immediately with static electricity seeping from the walls. Rigid melodic structures slowly come into the mix, periodically providing more violence in an already unrelenting sonic landscape. Tension is the main goal of this section of the piece as a great deal of space is left between the melodic phrases with a constant electronic hum remaining constant in the background. Roughly half-way through the mix, An Ant and An Atom makes the shift from electronic to acoustic as the energy that began building at the beginning of the piece fades into the droning sounds of a small string section. The melody here is longing sighs down the register of the instrumentation, directly contrasting the quick-fire method of the electronic intro. After a brief jaunt in the classical world, An Ant and An Atom re-introduces distortion to the mix carrying the piece back to modern day.
The idea of shifting from boiling electronics to harmonious strings is certainly a huge risk and it doesn’t come without at least some skepticism, especially considering the move back to electronic sounds at the end of the piece. Perhaps a more binary construction would have served the piece well with a simple juxtaposition of electronic versus acoustic sound. That being said, Warkentine compensates for the somewhat strange move from strings to distorted electronics by carrying the melody (or a slight variation of the melody) of the strings along as the piece gains momentum into obscurity. Without this melodic device, the transition would feel disjointed, but Warkentine maintains at least some continuity between the two sections.
Emotionally, the piece has a lot to offer. The electronic portions of the album come across as cool and standoffish with more warmth coming into play with the strings, which may bring to surface the give and take of old and new. It is not unfair to say that more analog and acoustic music has a natural-feel to it that invites the listener in whereas electronic music remains hard to connect with. On the other side of things, strings provide certain sonic limitations in terms of dynamics, range, and dexterity. By exploring both, An Ant and An Atom allows for a wide pool of varying emotions and may shed light on some of the often over looked nuances of each of these musical capacities.
Entropy feels like a great EP. The 20-odd minute piece is void of bloated explorations of a single sound with an intriguing development existing throughout. Objectively, the initial entrance of acoustic sounds to the mix is a bit stronger than the exit, however, the overall impact of the piece remains quite stunning.