- It must be confusing being Alan Abrahams. Having worked for the past few years as both Bodycode and Portable, the South African producer is now increasingly blurring the distinctions between the pseudonyms. While Portable started off with a focus on abstract electronics, more recently he has steered it increasingly towards sensuous, deep house—witness last year's spellbindingly evocative "No One Can Release The Many" on Perlon, the rumbling tribal grooves of "The Emerald Life" on Musik Krause and this year's glorious remix of Oleg Poliakov's "Rainy Dayz" on Circus Company.
Similarly, Bodycode, which Abrahams ostensibly set up at the behest of Ghostly/Spectral to focus on dance floor techno, has drifted into a grey middle ground where both projects now reside. There are echoes of the brooding organs and menacing bass that made Bodycode's 2006 debut album, The Conservation of Electric Charge such a dark pleasure, but the tone on the follow up, Immune is softer and more introspective. It's arguable that Bodycode's transformation had begun back in 2007 with the rumbling, organic house of "A Document of an American Past" on Yore, but the blurring of any remaining boundaries between both projects is completed on Immune.
"Hyperlight" is a good example of this convergence: a ponderous bass provides the basis for warm chord sequences and dissected, stuttering vocals, but the trademark Bodycode organ riffs then appear, giving off an undeniable sense of menace. "Imitation Lover" follows a similar path, its sensuous chords juxtaposed with a foreboding rhythm with sinister undercurrents, but the overall mood on the album is one of sadness, tales of spurned lovers and abject melancholia.
That's not to suggest that these themes make for uneasy or heavy listening: While "What Did You Say" features a female vocalist imploring "How can you say you can live without me / How can you say you want to leave me," it's based on a positively perky acid sequence. Meanwhile, the spooky keys on the title track may create a mysterious aura, but it's one that fascinates rather than repels, compelling this listener to hit "repeat" instead of "off." Immune also sees Abrahams move away from the dance floor again. "Meaning and Memory" features what sounds like a sitar sparkles over deft breaks and murky bass pulses, but unfortunately, "Spacial Harmonics" is less effective, its chopped up, stop start arrangement sounding too busy.
However, these tracks are mere distractions from the deeply soulful, dance floor friendly path that Immune follows. The rolling groove of "Subspace Radio" is imbued with lush pads and oriental riffs, but its true strength is its resonating, snaking bass, lending what sounds like an ethereal take on Portable's deep house real dance floor muscle. "I'll Hold Your Hand" meanwhile makes its approach from the opposite angle, the warm, fuzzy bass and weeping organ coming across like a reflective outtake from Conservation—but it reaches the same evocative destination.
So while it's now impossible to separate Abrahams's two projects, trying to do so misses the point somewhat—he has taken the best elements from both and painstakingly fused them on Immune. Irrespective of whether it's Bodycode, Portable or an amalgam thereof, to paraphrase Abrahams himself, it's the power of one that proves to be most compelling.
01. Meaning and Memory
03. I’ll Hold Your Hand
04. What Did You Say
05. Imitation Lover
07. Subspace Radio
08. Spacial Harmonics