- Pascäal's attractive debut LP is described as a "conceptual ode" to its title, Plastic. It's not the first time his music has evoked the synthetic. The producer's early releases for Vresh aped the vacuum-sealed soul of post-dubstep electronica. Last year's Stils EP referenced Detroit techno's virtual reality drift—albeit with the coddled bedroom feel common to Ways Inner Pass releases. Plastic isn’t a club album—it's more of an after-the-club one—and techno only features obliquely. (It's there in "Dream Apes," for instance, whose barely-there machine pulse is smothered by vague pads and sleepy half-melody.) Instead, the album's fuzzy synths, featherlight percussion and gentle patina of hiss bring to mind other, stranger plastic worlds.
Actress once described his music as "R&B concrète," and something similar could be said of Plastic. Its looping worlds-in-miniature have little drama or development. The slight, gorgeous "Rassera" and "Konishi Polis" resemble Splazsh in their shrouded moods and asymmetric synth loops. Elsewhere, Pascäal's music sounds like it might belong in the digitally rendered living room on the cover of Warp's 25-year-old Artificial Intelligence compilation. "Object Place" has a mixture of melancholy and sour grandeur common in early IDM. On "Red (Plays With Light)" and "Niqab," silken melodies echo Aphex Twin or Autechre at their tenderest.
Plastic features Pascäal's best and most distinctive music yet. These reference points suggest an album weighed down by musical history, but it's really very light on the ears. It's security blanket music, warm and comforting and cut off from the outside world. The most memorable moments are the sweetest, like the melting-butter pads on "牛," or the brief, coddled "Cat's Eye."
But as with Actress's best productions, sweetness isn't the whole story. Tracks like "888," with its smeared, surreptitious arps, or the strangely tense "Windows, Doorways," appear simple, but they have puzzling emotional facets that require deeper examination. Scratch away at the music's fuzzy surfaces and you'll find something cooler and harder underneath.
02. Object Place
04. Cat's Eye
06. Red (Plays With Light)
07. Konishi Polis
08. Windows, Doorways
10. Dream Apes