There comes a moment midway through ‘Pathway‘, the fourth track on IORI’s “Cold Radiance” that cracks start to appear in the album’s hard wall of sound.
Until that point about 5 minutes in the track is built on an incessant kick drum and a single note bass throb. Spontaneous percussion, so saturated in reverb and echo it goes beyond dubby and becomes genuinely disconcerting, fades in and out arrhythmically while a single saw tooth tone gains intensity with its persistence.
"Cold Radiance often sounds like a retro sci-fi soundtrack, and this is very much the point a fear of explosive decompression is replaced with awe at the universe's grandeur."
At the five-minute mark, the harsher tones start to reel back and warm, floaty pads slowly engulf the track. Eight minutes in, there is nothing left but the beat and beautiful washes of ambience. ‘Pathway‘ is the moment of transition as the album switches from the oppressive to the euphoric. “Cold Radiance” often sounds like a retro sci-fi soundtrack, and this is very much the point a fear of explosive decompression is replaced with awe at the universe’s grandeur.
All of the opening three tracks are characterised by a constant pursuit of the ominous, sitting somewhere between the Sähkö releases by Mika Vainio’s Ø and the Ligeti pieces used in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Opener ‘Transmission‘ is little more than a vibrating bass dirge. Overpowering in its repetition, the only variations are the natural oscillations of the synth and scrapes of percussion.
On the opposite end of the scale, the album’s later tracks often veer into neo-kosmiche territory, settling into a deep, spinning euphoria. ‘Voices From Sky‘ is built on dusty synth pads and soft, burbling noises while the epic ‘Fountain‘ has a looped arpeggio as its foundation, just enough of the album’s earlier dirt and grime clinging on to avoid a descent into cringe worthy new age tropes.
"Cold Radiance is a series of reflections on the nature of space - from the cold to the radiant."
Such contrast between the album’s two halves could easily come across as contrived, making a record that seemed haphazardly mashed together, and on the first few listens it can feel that way, but eventually it starts to make sense. Berlin residing Japanese born producer IORI is typically known for deep dubby techno, but when Field approached him for this record they asked for an exploration of experimental and ambient sounds. His response is something rare in electronic music, a genuine attempt to engage with the album as a format, the contrast between the opposing sides deliberately installed to create an implied sense of narrative and progression.
Having experimental musicians attempt to craft dance music has been relatively common over the last few years, but IORI is going the other way, with intriguing results. From the at times almost industrial first half to the blissed out space dub of the album’s other side – Cold Radiance is a series of reflections on the nature of space – from the cold to the radiant. It’s a soundtrack like work, which isn’t afraid to show two sides of an idea, the light and the dark, the living and the empty.
Cold Radiance is out now via Field Records, order a copy from Delsin.
2. Distant Planet
5. The Fountains
6. A Fall Of Moondust
7. Voices Of The Sky