- Jakub Alexander has described his early encounters with electronic music as inspiring "visions of interior architecture." Further down the line, they've inspired music, too—this is Alexander's second album as Heathered Pearls. The architectural themes remain on Body Complex: track titles like "Holographic Lodge" and "Abandoned Mall Utopia" call to mind the serene non-spaces of late capitalism, presenting them as fantastical retreats from the real world. Unlike 2012's beatless Loyal, the music on Body Complex doesn't feel like a simple place of refuge. It's more complex than that, and all the better for it.
Most importantly, Alexander has broadened his range. His balmy synth loops remain, and on tracks like "Holographic Lodge" and "Thought Palace" he strikes the same balance between vastness, sentiment and restraint that marked Returnal-era Oneohtrix Point Never. But elsewhere those synths blossom into a kind of techno, one inspired by woozy morning-after drives out of Detroit during Alexander's formative clubbing years. "Sunken Living Area"'s tranquil arpeggios unfold with a wonderful sleepy patience. Even better is "Interior Architecture Software," whose drums are a shade bouncier, and whose chime-like melody sounds like a discarded Mac startup ident.
Body Complex's artwork was an attempt, we're told, to make a "sculpture that, from a distance, looks like a display piece, but when you get closer and you have more time with it, you see its flaws." The producer's best tracks have just such an element of imperfection, and the album falters when it's lost. On "Personal Kiosk," the synth wash overpowers the drums, leaving a pleasant but aimless blur of sound. The liquid eddies of Shigeto collab "Abandoned Mall Utopia" feel excessively manicured and smooth. Worse is "Warm Air Estate," on which Outerbridge's affectless croon steers us dangerously close to the insipid chillout of fellow Ghostly artist Tycho.
Mostly, though, Alexander avoids Instagram romanticism, navigating between his chosen sounds in a way that feels stylish and effortless. His architectures still have an unreal sheen, but they're convincing enough to get lost in.
01. Cast In Lemon & Sand
02. Sunken Living Area
03. Interior Architecture Software
04. Personal Kiosk feat. The Sight Below
05. Holographic Lodge
06. Abandoned Mall Utopia feat. Shigeto
07. Perfume Catalogue
08. Artificial Foliage
09. Warm Air Estate feat. Outerbridge
10. Thought Palace