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Reviews
The Missing Ensemble - Zeropolis
Saturday, September 01 2007 @ 02:00 AM PDT
Contributed by: Gaendaal

Zeropolis

Artist: The Missing Ensemble United States

Title: Zeropolis

Label: Low Impedance Recordings Greece

Genre: Ambient / Soundscape

01 Old York (15:03)
02 La Suspension Éthéréenne (5:20)
03 A Long Walk (7:12)
04 Attaining Pt. 1 (10:27)
05 Zero-Sum (3:47)
06 Attaining Pt. 2 (3:39)

In the experimental electronica field soundtracks for imaginary films are not that unusual. Soundtracks for imaginary /cities/, however, are somewhat rarer. Ulver's magnificent "Perdition City" is one of the few examples I can think of but The Missing Ensemble (a trio comprised of Daniel De Los Santos, John Sellekaers and Mathias Delplanque) have now added "Zeropolis", their second release, to the list.

Whereas "Perdition City" appears to be a vibrant place, a modern-day Faerie, "Zeropolis" is an empty graveyard of a city. Opening track "Old York" sounds like the whirring, incessant machinery of an underground car-park; grinding gears and hissing hydraulics. The promotional material cites George Romero as a "silent architect" and this certainly sounds like the introduction to a zombie film; doors flap ominously and streets are strewn with the hastily abandoned detritus of modern life as the camera pans past silently.

From the silent streets, "La Suspension Éthéréenne" takes us into an office building where fluorescent lights crackle insanely and photocopiers spark into erratic life. "A Long Walk" continues this with jerking, air-conditioner drones and the plink, plink of dripping water. A sinister air is introduced with this duo of tracks as crescendo-ed throbs are cut off like slamming doors and a low, sub-tone of vocalization creeps into the mix.

"Attaining Pt. 1" adds a level of discordance that seems incongruent after the initial, blended tracks but it does invoke a sense of dying radio transmissions that leads into the misfiring electronics and warping bass-lines of "Zero-Sum" then the long, slow decay of "Attaining Pt. 2".

If "Zeropolis" had continued down the same stark streets of its opening two tracks then this would have been an excellent record. As it stands, the move from layered sounds which evoke a disturbingly cold, yet weirdly familiar, environment to a more synthetic use of electronics means that the entirety loses power. It comes back in the end strains of "Attaining Pt. 2" where wind whistles hollowly through plastic piping but its brother-track is overly lengthy and leaves the middle of the album lacking which is a shame as the initial build-up of over-arching threat is immense.

A more layered and increasingly sinister approach to the rest of the album would've made this a superb addition to the "urban soundtrack" genre but, as it stands, "Perdition City" remains the capital.

     


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