Stand Alone Complex – Music For Suicides (Kill A DJ)

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Instilling downtempo electronic compositions with soundtrack-y scope and flourishes, Canadian multi-instrumentalist Michael Lewis covers a lot of ground on this debut album. Taking a cue from the album’s name, there are intense song titles that are a bit misleading: despite ominous atmosphere, Lewis intersperses his work with precious and/or plaintive melodies and sudden lovely sweeps. In fact, his blending of the slightly creepy and the radiantly pretty can feel formulaic by album’s end.

Still, there’s considerable variation within that formula. “Last of the Long-Term Friendships” is bittersweet and score-like, while “I Could Jump Out a Window” plies soft beats and gauzy ambience. Other tracks are moodier and more synth-focused, ranging from M83 heft to submerged bass. “Don’t Be Gone Long” is tentative and diffuse, shuddering in slow-motion. The beats are always the most interesting thing in these tracks, much more so than the melodies, and in “the city shall burn” they’re distant and spidery, preparing us for some of the track’s welcome digressions.

Lewis would be best off growing beyond the more cliche elements on display here, like the rain and thunder looming in the closing “A Lullaby For Gwynedd”, and pursuing what it is that makes his music unique. Namely, his control of space and emotion within his work. Otherwise he’ll be relegated to penning atmospheric but ultimately generic background music.

Doug Wallen

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