With its imminent release on Sept 27th, long time Soma associate Petrichor continues apace with his second long player, Narisshu. The Waveform Transmitter‘s intrepid beat hound, Simon Huxtable, spent some time listening and was pleasantly surprised by the results.
Okay, let’s start with an admission: I am a huge Petrichor fan. As a proghead, his sound design is unsurpassed. It’s such a world away from what we expect techno to sound like and yet, it is enveloped in techno’s core values of futurism and rhythm.
When he launched the Petrichor moniker in 2013 on Soma Records, Glasgow-based techno producer and Ableton-certified trainer, Simon Stokes took the scene by storm. This new project quickly built a portfolio of warm, intricate sounds dominated by field recordings, melody and soul.
Derived from the ancient Greek – Petros/Stone and Ichor/Blood of the Gods – Petrichor now refers to the sweet smell in the air after a rainstorm, which very neatly gives a tangible quality to how his music sounds: familiar, wholesome, joyous.
A self-confessed hardware fan, Stokes has put his collection of drum machines, synths and effects units to great use creating innovative music that pushes the boundaries of techno forward in a way that very few artists do these days. And yet, in spite of this pioneering spirit, his music sounds like a favourite blanket wrapped around your shoulders.
For his second long player, Narisshu, the perfect follow up to his debut LP, Mangåta, Stokes digs deeper into his soul and explores melodic avenues in a way that really excites all the senses. Never one pressured into making music at one tempo in one style, this album sees the Petrichor project flex its musical muscles across ambient and IDM through breaks and onward to melodic techno. Each track is joined by a thread; its root key or a sound, which complements the overall listening experience beyond the standard idiom for dance music albums, namely ‘collection of bangers’.
From the sub-aquatic opening section of ambient teasers San and the all-too-short There, joyous atmospherics and icy pads set a wondrous tone. The dubby Rhodes and jazzy chords of Valdo, which we premiere exclusively for you today, begin to hint at the depth of sound on offer, before After Velvet whisks us off into the heavens. 6EQUJ5 ups the ante with the first proper dance floor influenced track, where polyrhythms and a powerful low end thunder sees Petrichor kick it up a few gears.
Title track Narisshu is the stuff of anthemic folklore; a real treat to hear the sound design and studio-craft that has gone into it. I love how it leads you one way before going another, like an epic aria crashing into a deeply emotional orchestral blast. Now, beyond halfway, MXT10 becomes an engrossing ambient moment before album high point, Blöta, twists and turns in the most elegant way. Arps marry with a dense percussive bedrock to create one of the finest pieces of modern music I’ve ever heard.
Rounding out the album, Stokes again changes pace with the electro-influenced breakbeats and warm pads of Field Dub and the Aphex Twin-like IDM stylings of Riot Faux Pas. Acid flecked downtempo jam Sapiens draws the album to a suitable conclusion with its clever drum work before Last seductively ends the journey.
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When you listen to it in full, Narisshu is the kind of album that electronic artists dream of making. Because it covers so many bases so elegantly, the changes in pace feel like punctuation points rather than a new piece of music and that can only come from the true mastery of your studio. I’m sure a few of the tracks were written purposely to be bridges but, even so, it’s a magnificent piece of work and only adds to the legacy Stokes has created with this project.
His is not the flashy stadium-filling, anthem-making, cake-throwing world. Petrichor occupies a quieter, more pondersome, self-aware place where his music reflects his mood, his outlook and his ideals. A place that any self-confessed music fan would be very happy in. Buy the album and join us, it’ll be the best decision you make all year.
04// After Velvet
09// Field Dub
10// Riot Faux Pas