Boomkat Product Review:
Halcyon Veil present Renick Bell’s debut long-player, the follow up to his 2016 release for Lee Gamble's UIQ imprint.
"The 10 tracks on Wary come from Bell's practice of live coding in the algorave tradition; a distinct technique that involves manipulating a vast library of samples with text-based editing software. The album is an improvisatory gesture that sets him well apart from the DAW preset crowd, and one that draws equal influence from free jazz, King Tubby, Mark Fell, and Pan Sonic.
Still, as the musician points out in a paper he authored in 2014, live coding isn't a genre; it's simply a performing method. To focus on the technique is to lose sight of the huge amount of flex and funk that's contained in these tracks, from the vivid, elastic bass of opener "Root of the Light," to the blissed-out dub pads and FX of "Recognizing Conditioning," or the racecar-fuel lead synth in "Cyclical Forces."
These tracks, while constantly intricate, are just as often tuneful and memorable. "Resolute in Shedding" is a perfect example of Bell's disparate musical ingredients cohering into something with enough swagger to tear up a sound system or turn a dancefloor on its head. "Cliff-face Growth" similarly underpins its frantic high-register synth work with a staggering sub-bass kick that immediately pulls the listener into the club.
The artwork, a bubbled hive of play buttons, comes courtesy of Jesse Osborne-Lanthier. The overlapping and swarming aspect of the art reflects the disorienting barrage of sounds that Renick Bell's tracks can throw at you, such as the pummelling percussion drive in "Fluid, Open." The uncanny, synthetic replication of the stippled buttons brings to mind Bell's own musical and technical replication. Although the patterns might be obscured they are never truly absent; everything is held together at all times by Bell's precise sense for what is genuinely striking.
Renick Bell has made legitimately new-sounding music here. Filled with breathtaking percussive bombs, icy needlepoint synthesis, and a defiant refusal to conform or relent, Wary speaks a complex and consistent language that's deeply rewarding to those who take the time to learn it."