+N "Plane" is one of the more aesthetically experimental FAX releases, and seems to take us on a gliding tour above natural and unnatural landscapes and through calm and turbulent atmospheres. Here, Atom Heart utilizes a more reserved and simpler palette of percussion in the vein of "Softcore," while Victor Sol brings a shadowy, echoey expansiveness not usually seen in conjunction with Atom Heart material. Analog melodies, tones, bursts and squiggles are all abundant here (usually accentuated with rich delay effects), along with a constant gallery of unorthodox and unexpected miscellaneous noises, and combined with a theme of airy and textural percussion that has led me to describe this music as "deep quirk."
Sky - - -A pulsing bass tone pattern starts off the disc, which becomes the driving force of the track. It's soon combined with a light and glittery melodic pattern which instantly gives a cloudy, airy feel. Other shimmeries include themselves and the off-timed patterns begin to become texture rather than melody in a very odd and blissful effect. The addition of a panning and whispery hi-hat type noise, and some long stretched analog tones have us flying through heavy cloud cover. As the flowing and airy feel begins to speed up, the Plane reaches a break in the clouds and now all kinds of detail is visible below! The track begins a much more straightforward and speedy direction as on-track percussion carries us along. There's a very driving but light-handed rhythm here, it feels energetic but very calm at the same time. The intertwining melodics gain a lot of force while Atom Heart's percussion trills along happily and Victor Sol's realtime distortion provides darker edges. Things get a little out of control as the track winds down and we're left with Atom Heart's and Victor Sol's respective melodies becoming a single pretty texture and fading out.
Sky (Liquid) - - -This is one of the prettier tracks i've heard on FAX and takes the prize for most brilliant aesthetics on the whole disc. It's a 'remix' of "Sky" but focusing much more on an ambient perspective, the glittery and shining melodic patterns being the main attraction here. Our tour seems to be in the high atmosphere now, and things pretty much float around for the 11:37, with subtle basstone patterns to keep us within Earth's gravity. The glitteries continually change their timing relationship, intersecting at slightly more different moments and areas and deliciously reminding of sunlight on water. A subtle panning effect leads out the track into its delicate ending, a gentle but rapid rising and falling of tiny tonal particles, thin air molecules scattering around the Plane in a watery and glistening effect. Just beautiful.
Sky (Clustered) - - -This second and shorter "Sky" reworking takes a more heavy-handed approach with a distant and echoey percussion tracking along in the left channel and a noisy but subdued analog pattern in the right channel.
This is an odd contrast which makes me think of the Plane flying low now along a coastline, with ocean on the left and land on the right. More pretty and somewhat mournful synth calls intrude on the right, describing a sort of horizon line that our Plane is heading towards. The two channels eventually merge somewhat as our imagined terrain changes. The drawn out tones are given several chances for predominance before the track slows and dwindles down as our Plane comes in for a landing...
[the Sky trilogy is a really interesting addition to this disc which always somewhat differentiates "Plane" in my view from lots of other track arrangements. Three different but equally interesting views of the same elements...]
Onda Corta - - -Niko Heyduck of the Aerial Service Area series joins us for this track and we're introduced by an interesting and somewhat ghostly ambient theme that continues throughout most of the track. Again: steady, driving, but lighthanded percussion keeps the track moving but moves to the background to give center stage to the varied melodic oddities that keep popping up on our tour. All of this becomes more intense as burblings and eerie washings add depth to some skittering insectile rhythms. Random repetitive details start cropping up all over as our tour passes over hills, lakes, freeways, towns, and forests. This deconstructs into an odd semi-ambient middle passage (one example of unexpected momentary glimpses of real beauty here) which quickly ends of in a freakish pile of robotic loops.
256 - - -a high-pitched tone drops down into a delicious pool of silence before floating airily back up in a lazy melody. This repeating theme throughout casts a shadowy 'light' upon this quirky track. It seems here our Plane is performing a night journey, and there's a rather slow-motion effect to the trip this time. A humorously heavy-handed and chirpy rhythm breaks with tradition and takes the forefront. This is constantly and differingly accentuated at odd times and changes and drops elements at random. It's backed by a constant menagerie of odd noises which start to serve as the main focus here. The weirdness continues and is combined with some quite beautiful and monolithic synth solos from Victor Sol, adding the depth that our night landscape needed. The crowded and 2D percussion reminds us that it's hard to see in the dark, however. Elements seem to sneak in and out almost maliciously. A calmer ending sees the Plane traversing the night sky, sending out its radar in the hopes of avoiding dangerous collision!
Tone Float - - -This is the album's most compositionally abstract track. The Plane's instruments are going haywire! Some delicious echoey samples seem to tell us to not get too worried and to keep calm. Whoops. Our Plane has made an unscheduled flight into the ocean. Hang in there Plane!
Rain Rain - - -The Plane has been fully repaired and is ready for its first test run. A calm and gummy tonal sequence with some patterny Roland sounds keep us on track and everything seems to be working smoothly. It sounds rather dreamy and gets a little improvisational as Plane begins to get the hang of flying again. Things float easily and merrily along with more airy percussion and there are several touches reminiscent of "Aerial Service Area 2" here, including another lovely and weird solo from Victor. The percussion gets a little bouncy and overlays some robotic changes and snippets. Hmm..Plane's faltering a little. Better bring him back down now. Diagnosis: Everything pretty much dandy, but still a few bugs to work out.
Reset - - -Apparently Planes dream when they're in their hangars at night. A perfectly odd piece of abstract ambient that serves as a nice epilogue to our tour.
+N "Plane" has a nice and refreshing sense of humor to it that i haven't gotten from nearly anything else on FAX, and i enjoy that greatly. It's quite a unique release, giving both artists a seemingly vast area in which to play around. It's combination of distorted beauty and lighthearted bounciness is one that i find continually amusing and makes this a real standout.
(review by Auraphage)