Andrew Duke - From the Deep End [afe - 2007]Andrew Duke is a sound artist/designer from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Aside from his work as a recording artist, he has worked in television, film and theater, creating sound design and scores. He is also a teacher of composition on the computer. The aforementioned information might scare off listeners who are more reticent of an academic, or dry, approach to music. Fortunately, Duke's music isn't at all stuffy or over-wrought. From the Deep End is, perhaps depressingly so, still available from afe records, though it's limited to 100 copies. Considering the quality of the music presented here, it should have disappeared instantly, because it's one of the most involving, genre bending electronica releases this reviewer has heard in some time. I say this with the caveat that, due to my regrettable lethargy as a writer, I am just getting around to reviewing this, despite the fact that it came out last year.
The title of this release is credited to "come from a conversation with a Drexiyan". Drexiciyans, as legend has it, are an underwater species of partly human inhabitants, and From the Deep End has a submerged, yet mysterious quality to it. There are voices present, which sound as though they are amplified by water, being an efficient means of tranferring sound. Yet they are manipulated, puportedly to represent an imaginary Drexiyan language. It's a trick which could be tacky, or at the very least gimmicky in the wrong hands, but Duke makes these alien sounds believable.
The overriding theme seems to rear it's head now and then, but these two long discs don't seem to be entirely bound by the concept. The music spans everything from experimental techno, to drone, and, perhaps most surprisingly, to post-rock instrumentation. Duke's music exudes confidence, and these pieces have the sound of music created with great care, and a surgeon's precision. Technical Perfection in music can be tedious, but in this case, Duke's production skills and musical ability only bring his work into sharper relief. His enthusiasm for sound design is very evident, because the two discs have a cinematic quality. A great release from an under-appreciated artist, and yet another triumph for the impressive afe label.Erwin Michelfelder