Konx-Om-Pax - Caramel

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  • Those who knew Tom Scholefield for his visual art might have been surprised by his debut album. Had it matched his work for the likes of fellow Scot Hudson Mohawke, Regional Surrealism would have been a maximalist splurge of lurid colours and HD digital shapes. Instead Scholefield retreated into the dank, mossy spaces opened up by another Scottish act, Boards Of Canada. Four years later, the two strands of Scholefield's output are much closer together. The title of his second LP, Caramel, mirrors HudMo's Butter in its indulgent connotations; the music is melodic and glowing with euphoria. That's not to say there aren't some odd touches. The opening pair of heat-warped swooner "Video Club" and the gloomy "Perc Rave" suggest two wildly different directions that Scholefield doesn't subsequently follow. Later, "Cosmic Trigger" is a sickly confection surrounded by more decorous tracks. But where Regional Surrealism thrived on these sorts of twists and turns—and was a stronger album for it—most of Caramel sticks to a kind of formula. Its precedent might be Oneohtrix Point Never (another collaborator of Scholefield's): smeared synth numbers like "Frozen Border" and "Radiance" suggest Rifts with a dash of IDM whimsy. Scholefield's innovation is to chuck ideas from his raving past into the pot: '90s hardcore, the sugar rush of happy hardcore or trance. It's a potent mix but not a particularly refined one. The melodies sometimes feel clunky and the textures a bit flat. On "Last Jam Forever," the wistful lead line isn't enough to alleviate the plodding pace. Things pick up when Scholefield makes bolder gestures. "Oren's Theme," with its janky piano-and-diva loop, is Caramel's sweetest moment and its most rave-referential. Its wave of euphoria breaks onto an enormous detuned bassline and filtered crowd noise tumbles across the stereo field. It's a moment of outsized flair that's miles away from Scholefield's earlier productions, and perhaps halfway towards something better.
  • Tracklist
      01. Video Club 02. Perc Rave 03. Last Jam Forever 04. Manhunter 05. Oren’s Theme 06. Frozen Border 07. Mega Glacial 08. Caramel 09. Radiance 10. Beatrice’s Visit 11. Stay 12. Cosmic Trigger 13. At The Lake 14. Rainbow Bounce