[CD, Tympanik Audio]
With an avid interest in all things visionary and listing amongst his influences the American writer William Gibson and Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky, 25 year old New Yorker Rob Lioy (aka Access To Arasaka) named his project after an evil corporation in the cyberpunk related card game Netrunner.
Self-releasing an album and several EPs (that are still available) through his own website and an album and EP through net label Illphabetik, Lioy made his debut with a joint release for acclaimed US label Tympanik Audio and the now sadly defunct Greek label Spectraliquid with Oppidan in 2009. The album took its name from a building in an as yet unfinished story, written by Lioy, that won him wide praise from the music press and fans worldwide. For his second album, Lioy again draws on his passion for all things futuristic and bases void() on the concept of system hacking from it’s roots to the distant future with a sonic interpretation of what an electronic system might feel when subjected to such an attack.
The concept behind void() begins with the track titles, each one named after an instruction in various computer languages. Beyond that, Lioy’s vision for this album is as glitchy and hi-tech as you might expect when dealing with a world as technical and intricate as computer hacking, tracing its evolution from its analogue roots to its current digital format and on to envisage a future where its levels of complexity and specialisation are sure to evolve still further as technology moves on. Lioy accurately reflects this world of wires, signals, electrical and IT intricacies well by crafting precise, complex experimental electronics although many tracks offer a subtler approach in the form of eerily dark tones, steady beats and futuristic digital soundscapes.
“[overwrite_ctr]” for example is beautifully gentle, almost digitally symphonic, track with subtle digital glitches, whirs and a slow distorted bass grind while “bpf_u_int32” is a wide fluid landscape slowly filling with radiant multi-coloured ambience. It is the album openers – “*strtok()”, “kill_recorder=$c1” and “array[0..8191]” – and “switch(pcap_datalink)” later in the album that are the attention grabbers with their layers of crazed beats and abstract glitches firing complex patterns from all angles. From “kill_recorder=$c1” onwards however things start to subtly progress towards the calmer end of the sonic spectrum with heavily distorted voices creeping in occasionally like overheard snippets of conversation stolen from the electronic ether. Sitting in the middle ground are tracks such as “setvector”, “config.syn_seq” and “” which take steadily drifting lunar ambience and combine it with jittery stop-start glitch work to simultaneously create a feeling of spacious futurism and advanced technological wizardy. Regardless of the style he adopts, Lioy allows each track to meld into a consistent flow that sits together well and, despite their subtle differences, they are well conceived and structured so that they co-exist with ease.
void() is a combination of intricate, frenetic, glitchy beatwork and dark creeping atmospheric ambience. Sometimes perfectly cinematic and quite beautifully conceived, sometimes dark and ominous, and at other times random and abstract, void() mixes these styles seamlessly and skilfully to produce a detailed album of subtlety and complexity. Reference points are Daniel Myer’s Haujobb, Mike Cadoo and Mike Wells’ Gridlock and, perhaps more obviously, Autechre for the more glitchy abstract tracks. Lioy however does not seek to replicate any of these artists, instead redefining the genre and producing something uniquely his own. His style is subtle but it is one that is strangely addictive and absorbing; he has a vision of the future that may very well be bleak but it is one that his music gives us an insight into. It will be interesting to see where his vision will take us in its next chapter.[audio:http://aeonflow.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/access_to_arasaka-kill_recorderc1.mp3|titles=Access To Arasaka – kill_recorder=$c1]
Published by Igloo Magazine [January 14th 2011]