New Tendencies - L5 [Forking Paths - 2018]Designer, artist, and musician Matt Nish-Lapidus' New Tendencies project follows up last year's Missed Month with L5 on Forking Paths Records. Composed on modular and numerous other different pieces of equipment, L5 brings forth a synthy, electronic recording that at points borders on industrial, and jumps to avant-garde dance at others. Well recorded and fun to listen to, L5 is a quick glimpse into what feels like a futuristic train ride.
Opening with the appropriately named "Start," a loose, industrial soundscape rumbles forth, like taking a tour of a slowly decaying space craft. Crinkly, squiggly, and sometimes crunchy, this noisy beginning to the album draws the listener in quickly. "Trust" follows with an almost dancelike aplomb. High synths bounce against rounded, distorted low pulses, and noisy sheets float in between. The feedback driven "Practice" is a nice touch, and quite a change from the preceding track. "Ultralight" and "Point" follow, and in typical modular fashion, seem to be led by the machine instead of the artist. This is pretty common with modular synthesis, it seems, and while some find it to be a benefit, it seems to cheapen the approach. Thankfully, "Wise" emerges from these tracks like a noisy, oscillating phoenix. Industrial throb meets with shimmering feedback and crispy distortion to build a wonderful sandwich of sound worthy of consumption by even the pickiest of robots. "Different Object" returns to the well of familiar modular work, and the closer, "Stop," turns the reins back over to the machine as well. However, there are interesting layers here that sound well together (tonally), but weave uncomfortably together enough to cause weird auditory glitches that affect the overall enjoyment of a pretty synth piece.
New Tendencies' latest release, L5, is an enjoyable collection of synth fun and interesting industrial. While it does fall into the typical modular synth machine driven noodling, there are some engaging elements of sound that really show Matt Nish-Lapidus' capabilities. And while L5 makes for an easy listen, it would also work well in a sci-fi soundtrack settingPaul Casey