Some Truths is the modular synth project of Ralph Cumbers, also of Bass Clef and one of my absolute favourite twitter accounts (@bassclefbass). That means that what you hear on Bliss Abyss was most likely created by an ungodly mass of patch cables. Each of these bright, beat-tastic explorations has half a side of vinyl to expand over, so plenty to luxuriate in here.
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- Bliss Abyss by Some Truths
9/10 Laurie Staff review, 26 November 2014
The modular synth. It is the giant squid of the electronic instrument arsenal - enigmatic and nigh untameable. Unless you’re a synthy Captain Ahab, the beast steers your music towards the ‘random noodling shite’ region of electronica from which there is no return. Yes, Ahab’s prize was in fact a whale, but my miniscule knowledge of Moby Dick doesn’t permit any proper commitment to the metaphor, so you’ve got a giant squid instead. What I’m trying to say is that Ralph Cumbers is Captain Ahab.
Having only come across Cumbers in Bass Clef form, this strikes me as much more free and comfortable for the Bristolian. The ‘Dawn Chorus Pedal’ 12” felt like Cumbers hadn’t quite reached his potential, with that crazy cymbal break halfway through promising much more. Most of the previous Some Truths releases have been on tape, but now we have a fully formed release beautifully titled Bliss Abyss, and it’s the sound of Cumbers nailing it. He manages to coax lovely repetitive melodic lines from the modular, gently grooving with a raspy sizzle that is cutting but never too sharp. You’ll find some morphing filtered chords that stab throughout harking back to dubbier techno but ultimately the LP is rooted in the housier side of electronica with the occasional buried nod to downtempo and dubstep. You probably couldn’t nod if you were buried so ignore that.
The main musical feature that lifts this way above a lot of melodic electronica is the playfulness that is present between man and machine, tipping his equipment over all sorts of curvy edges. Side B is a great example of this, with ‘This Love Will Make You Levitate’ warping into the nastier side of the modular world and ‘Golden Rose the Colour of a Dream I Had’ slipping dreamily into a different pace entirely halfway through. I guess the whole thing is like a synth dream that totally sounds like that ferny cover. Minor imperfections in the performance lets the real Cumbers (please) stand up, clearly conveying his musical imagination to the world. I can see him now, tall and proud, declaring “I Am Ahab” to the waves.
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