5 out of 5
Label: Central Processing Unit
Produced by: Nadia Struiwigh
However you want to apply the term Lenticular to Nadia Struiwigh’s full-length CPU release of that name – it works. The album changes based on how you “see” it: it’s highly emotional, or it’s ambient background, or it’s glitchy IDM, or it’s all of those things. You can “mistake” it for something, then see it another way; it is not music of clearly defined angles – yeah, I’m stretching how I’m working this here, but all the same – it is music that slips from one mode to another, while remaining cohesive as a whole. It is also, amidst an already impressive CPU roster, one of their most surprising and original releases, not easily summarizable within the borders of Rephlex references that – no knocks on some bright minds on the label – cover the majority of their releases. It follows that Nadia’s work overall is hard to define, though shares that above backing: it tends to be many things at once.
That said, I do like ‘lenticular’ as a contained shape, because that’s the album’s strength: it feels like a very set, defined and contained stretch of music; it’s purposeful – no minute or track leaves you questioning its place in the set, which takes us through Aphex Twin ambient works – touches of both volumes, though leaning towards the more beat-based first collection – but morphs that through something of an industrial groove, a la Radian. Neither of these touchpoints are really sufficient, though: Struiwigh’s combination of electronica and the organic is unmatched, and the blurry lines allow the album to shift between cinematic, curious soundscapes and more aggressive and haunting fare, though both can equally be said to be gorgeous. …Excepting closer 010101, which is not a bad exception, and is Nadia giving due to her label: this is a straight-up, banging IDM acid-house jam, and it’s a killer way to go out. On any other disc where I’d say ambience is a guiding factor, such a song would likely feel out of place; it speaks to the spanning nature of the music that that’s not the case here.
Lenticular might be out of place on CPU overall, though, as there’s no mistaking this for 90s Rephlex, or any artist inspired specifically by that scene; Struiwigh has pursued a sound that is undeniably personal, but her admitted dedicated to electro gear and obvious skill with such has given her an amazingly deep ability to express those feelings, making them interpretable however it pleases – bob your head, get weepy, get angry, or just bliss out.