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Go to the Displacer website  Displacer - Moon_Phase [M-Tronic - 2003]

Displacer is one of the latest additions to the M-Tronic roster, and as we can expect from this excellent label for electronic music, this debut album is another jewel of dark cinematic melodies and carefully placed IDM beats.

Displacer is the project of Mike Morton, also a talented web-designer and illustrator, judging from the beautiful cover design of Moon_Phase. Hailing from Toronto, Canada, he has been participating on the Pre-Set compilation released by Mute and the Sub-Session sampler, and has also been active as remixer for Beefcake, Implant and Delica. Now that the debut has been released in a special paper digipack, we can add another masterpiece to our collection of electronic music, preferably placed between Beefcake and Gridlock releases.

The music of Displacer is build around ambient soundscapes with a futuristic touch, and in most of the tracks more and more electronic beat effects are added throughout the playing time. The atmosphere is concentrated on a dark one, so the beats never reach a danceable style (except in the title track, one of the highlights) and there is no Autechre-styled intensity to be found. It is clear that the ambient parts play a big role in the music and feeling created on Moon_Phase, and those can easily match the darkest ambient-only records heard. The beats are very much “IDM”; a lot of experimenting with different sounds and eager to create a rhythm that stays far away from the normal 4/4 style – it comes closer to break beat and drum & bass slowed down. Now and then spoken samples are used, which adds a lot the minimal music. Atrophied and Exponent are examples of this, and those are not surprisingly the absolute best pieces on the 15 tracks counting album, clocking 76 minutes.

If I may compare this to anything, I’d say a more laid-back styled Beefcake, and it is the same German duo that takes on to remix the title track from Moon_Phase. As expected, not much of the original is left on this remix. The beats are more complex and the ambient sounds are somewhat manipulated, which turns out very good. The newest signing on the M-Tronic label, Ch.District from Poland, remixes Lying In Wait: a lot faster and intense drum & bass beats change the Displacer track quite a lot. Last but not least, Gridlock chose to do Wraith. This remix is slowly building up towards a harder and straight-to-the-point style than the piece done by Mike Morton.

Fans of Beefcake cannot afford to miss this; Moon_Phase is an amazing album of dark ambient atmospheres and complex electronic sounds. Perhaps too long for those who are looking for more intensity, since the album is quite relaxing. But is that bad? I don’t think so, and I’m sure this album can be named as one of the most interesting and best electronic releases this year so far.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Justin Faase
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