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Body Isolations *


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Performer Notes
  • The aesthetic combination and recombination of darker and moodier strands of electronic music continue to produce new variants over the years, some more successful than others. Donato Wharton happily falls more into the success side of the equation, but Body Isolations benefits as well for emphasizing warmth as much as cool -- it's arguably the same factor that has made musicians like Brian Eno, Boards of Canada, and even Radiohead in their more experimental moments so striking. Low-key drone loops are melancholic but enveloping, creating a cocoon-like feeling through much of the album. But Wharton's sophomore effort also emphasizes gentle surprises over its length. While it sets a mood early on, everything from the swiftness of the opening "Absentia" to the appearance of not merely guitar but a brief burst of roughly emotional singing on "Blue Skied Demon" to the droning church organ of "Puget Sound" to the drowned guitar interplay on "Deities Stalk the Land" tweaks the expectations initially set. Some moments come across more as gentle reflection for no other purpose, such as the piano-only "Transparencies" -- while no bad thing, they tend to interrupt the flowing electronic feeling established and are more distracting in the end. Meanwhile, Body Isolations is easily one of the shorter electronic albums in some years, clocking in under 35 minutes -- each song runs only between three to five minutes, and the effect is almost like one of audio snapshots, suggesting mysterious landscapes not fully explored yet (perhaps appropriate given song titles like "The End of the American Century" and "Underwave"). Almost as if in counterbalance, two short films by director Armin Franzen are included on the disc, further edited by Wharton as a companion piece to the album. ~ Ned Raggett
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