The new record from the ever-enigmatic producer Ando Laj arrives via Origin Peoples in the form of a memory stick containing 77 minutes of metamorphosing electronica. Although entitled ‘Slab,’ the album unfolds more like a ‘stream’ of sounds, ideas, images and landscapes.
In traditional noise and experimental release style, ‘Slab’ is divided simply into two parts with no real track ‘breaks.’ That being said, the album does not play out in the uniform fashion of noise or drone. To be sure, ‘Slab’ ought to be listened to altogether, yet, there are ‘tracks,’ or sketches of tracks, contained within. Laj uses subtle pauses, fades and atmospheric sweeps to segue a new idea, beat or chord progression. It sometimes feels as though we are being guided through a museum of Laj’s mind and the many picturesque scenes envisioned within.
And indeed, the experience of listening to ‘Slab’ has all the markings of a ‘vision quest’ in the ‘new-age’ spiritual sense. The soaring, tonal washes that underscore the entire record hearken back to the early new-age recordings of Iasos or Laraaji. It perhaps comes as no surprise then that Origin Peoples recently released a new record from K. Leimer, a minimal synth experimentalist whose recordings from the late 70’s and early 80’s have gained new appreciation thanks to reissues on RVNG Intl. and VOD.
Minimalist, new-age ambience is only one aspect of the equation on ‘Slab’ however. Laj also dabbles in jazzy breakbeat, cosmic dub, vocaloid glitch, 80’s hypnogogic kitsch, fourth-world exotica and mechanistic IDM.
After the brooding, film-noir soundscapes of Laj’s previous LP “Collector,” “Slab” feels like a marked evolution. Laj expands upon the monochrome colour palette of “Collector,” splashing strokes of neon and cosmic blue across ‘Slab’s expansive canvas. Laj’s experimentation is varied and diverse yet he never veers too far left, always keeping the styles within his wheelhouse and refraining from quixotic dabbling. This is how “Slab” maintains a sense of coherence in spite of its multifariousness. Laj seems to know exactly when to go for it and when to pull back. Such tact and attention to detail are requisite for a release of this breadth and caliber but Laj proves he is more than capable with ‘Slab.’
Slab is out now on Origin Peoples. Purchase here.