Aether / Artifacts (Exponential)


Artifacts has to be one of the best chill-out albums since Music Has A Right To Children. This kid from San Antonio, TX weaves melodies that sound like he was raised on a steady diet of Boards of Canada and the RZA. It would be easy to dismiss this album as a backpack hip-hopper fantasy, but Artifacts stands out for the same reason a great techno track leaps to attention: great sounds used to great effect.

Aether is a gifted sound designer and can take the same hackneyed tinkly piano loops used by a thousand other DJ Premier wannabes and make them ache with enough romantic fantasy to make Lord Byron blush on “For Her.” Even a track like “Milla Ann,” which should be just standard Mike Oldfield tubular beardyness, is expertly condensed into a short cluster of loops that drift lazily along as part of a larger and much better story. The whole album is comprised of many such micro passages of indescribably rich melodic interplay. And yet there are so many brief moments like that on Artifacts that when it’s all over it instantly begs a repeat listen to make sure those myriad sounds registered and all of that bliss isn’t just incidental.

Sean-Michael Yoder
File under: Portishead, Boards Of Canada, Gang Starr