- The Canadian producer returns with another strong anime-inspired LP.
- In 2017, Nathan Micay entered the world of film composition. It's not surprising. 2016's Capsule's Pride, the Berlin-based Canadian's breakout album on LuckyMe, was a musical homage to Katsuhiro Otomo's 1988 anime film Akira. Not only did the album tenderly transport scenes and dialog to the dance floor, but Micay's approach to creating the whole thing was filmic. He used storyboards—something perhaps more common to writers or directors than trance producers—and the method stuck. "Now I'm working on an album," he told Truants a couple years back. "I'm storyboarding that because I want it to be a follow-up to the Akira thing—not in the sense of the theme of Akira, but in the sense of creating a world with continuous tracks and ideas." Sure enough, Blue Spring, Micay's second full-length for LuckyMe, is a cinematic and enveloping fantasy.
The LP is based on a story Micay wrote. It follows a "young data miner rebel" who attends a rave that gets broken up by a "futuristic police state." (Micay and the label also made a comic, which comes with the Blue Spring vinyl.) But even as music alone, the cyberpunk overtones are clear. There are big '80s synths, vaporous atmospheres and sparkling trance melodies. Stylistically, it's pretty similar to Micay's recent work for Whities and ESP Institute—but thematically, Blue Spring operates on an elevated level. The album is full of narrative touches, like the dystopian newscast on "Romance Dawn For The Cyber World," or the cute (possibly Akira-sourced) vocal sample on "He Has The Key." Even when the sci-fi sounds are less explicit, each track, in some way, links back to the story. The titles help. On the LP's biggest tune, for example, called "The Party We Could Have," we reimagine the data miner's night with a sky-high trance anthem instead of the police.
Blue Spring is also a rich and beautifully produced album. Micay has a way of making delicate sounds speak volumes. The music has a wistful and childlike feel even when soaring high, its sense of size expanding like a glittering galaxy. Tracks fall on the spectrum between soundscape and dance floor. On the dreamy "11.11.90 [Beat Version]," this means starting beatless and ending with breakbeats. Micay pulls off elegant transitions like this more than once. Some of album's most stunning pieces are also simple ideas strikingly executed—the cascading arps against soft bass chords on "Blue Spring," the calm and steady piano loop on the ambient closer, "Romance Dawn For The New World." Gentle as they are, each is as vivid as a cherished memory.
There are times when Blue Spring leans too hard on the sci-fi zeitgeist. "Ecstasy On Maple Mountain" offsets its sentimental melody with a Blade-style rave synth, a sound that borders on being both cheesy and obvious. (But for the record, the track still goes off.) Then there's the general presence of anime. Do all the pan flutes and cartoonish voices give the LP a twee effect? My vote is no. If Capsule's Pride was an homage to Akira, Blue Spring shows how inspiration can inform a new take on a style. With dance floor bombs and poignant electronic music, the album unites Micay's interests as a producer, DJ and budding film composer. This is his world, filled with feeling, fantasy and artistic voice.
01. Romance Dawn For The Cyber World
02. Join Me Or Die. Can You Do Any Less
03. Ecstacy Is On Maple Mountain
04. He Has The Key
05. Blue Spring
06. 11.11.90 [Beat Version]
07. Moon Scepter Elimination
09. The Party We Could Have
10. May All Your Bacon Burn
11. Romance Dawn For The New World