4 out of 5
Label: WeMe Records
Produced by: Undiagnosed (?)
What is going on here?? Who is ‘Undiagnosed’??
It shouldn’t matter. Putting a real-person name to a nom de plume doesn’t change the output of that AKA, but when something like Undiagnosed arrives, and is this fully formed and extensive drop of classic IDM that could very truly pass for a Richard-D.-James-in-his-90s-Warp-heydays release, it drives you to wonder if someone with an established rep is sneaking around and putting out albums with zero credits beyond the mysterious name of ‘Undiagnosed’ and some cryptic descriptions on bandcamp pages.
The Central Processing Unit label has made a name for itself as a sort of second coming of Rephlex, but IDM fans are also keenly aware of Belgium’s WeMe, which has its share of notable electronica of that vibe (with entries from Global Goon and Ceephax, to boot), but also branches out interestingly into unique soundtrack work, and ambience, and other ephemera. In general, though, whenever you have a modern artist who ticks a “sounds like” box, you can also spot where they don’t sound like whomever, and then maybe future releases start to define a sound particular to that person or group. This is where Undiagnosed differs: it is a “sounds like” in the way I’ve already described, but in a manner that wholly stands on its own; the release is shocking because it doesn’t remind of Aphex, or other Rephlex stalwarts, but rather legitimately comes across as an unreleased album by one of those names. I suppose that’s maybe limiting to whomever Undiagnosed might be, but again: this isn’t someone copping a style; it’s someone(s?) so embodying that style as to be able to write new music as that other artist. It’s wild.
If I were reviewing this as another Aphex album, I’d mention how it sleekly crosses from the slicker beats of, say, the RDJ album into the blitzes of Come To Daddy, updated with 26 Mixes and Syro’s sense of “song.” The 4 LP box has, at first, something of a possibly purposeful divide between chill songs and drilling ones from one side to another, but that pacing disappears when getting to the 3rd and 4th LP of the set, and the whole collection is maybe lacking a cohesive conclusion, likely as a result of this being a curated set of tracks from four released Undiagnosed “chapters.” WeMe has collected these into a minimalistically arted box, that has – like the Bandcamp page – no credits whatsoever, but it sounds great, and begs to be listened to again, and again, and hopefully Undiagnosed continues to mystify us with further fantastic albums / chapters beyond those collected on ‘We Are.’