Semiomime – From Memory (Ad Noiseam)

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From Memory is the first album from Semiomime, another solo project of Noel Wessels. This album is a soundtrack for a film that does not exist. Wessels is a producer generally known for his driving beats and heavy synth lines on the Hardcore and Drum and Bass scenes, so this conceptual approach may seem strange. However with previous releases under The Outside Agency and DJ Hidden where often there are dark foreboding introductions and dramatic film like moments, his progression to the cinematic realm of pseudo soundtracks does not feel unusual. In fact, From Memory has a very similar atheistic to his previous projects. This has left me wondering why Wessesls has created another alias…

The album is split into three parts, “Part 1” opens with a sonic scene conjuring up images of a seething city with people busily going about their business and sirens in the distance. The sound quality and spacialisation of the scene is executed beautifully. Pads and a rhythmic synth line slowly push the city into the background, to be replaced with delayed bird calls, then more cinematic harmonies and melodic lines. This section is the highlight of the album and sounds patient and carefully constructed. Equally enjoyable is the electronic sequenced feel to it.

“Part 2” starts to become dark and heavy, with distorted bass hits, sequenced synth lines and well placed tempo shifts. Wessels achieves tracks that evoke a dark, urban, crime riddled environment not dissimilar to Gotham City. Unfortunately after “Gnosis” the album begins to lose validity of a soundtrack, as it lacks many of the devises required and some of the orchestration sounds like a computer replication. This reflects a clear lack of training and understanding of film music. Some of the musical ideas are underdeveloped, tension is resolved too often with an electronic drum beat resulting in a lack of depth. This is a pity because, the album begins with the intent and the delivery of a well executed soundtrack concept album.

“The Mole Children,” the first track of “Part 3”, is an attempt to drive the album back into the soundtrack realm. However the piece feels awkward, the piano melody has no direction and notes are too harmonically parallel to create interesting harmonies. The following track “Hendershot”, however, begins to redeem the album, with its otherworldly dissonant melodic theme, and strange squelchy sound effects, then flowing effortlessly into the last tracks of the album.

At times Wessels successfully invites the listener to be the protagonist of this unwritten film, guided by Wessels dark drones, menacing suspenses and drawn out melodic lines. Redeeming some of the clear limitations of the album. I really want to love this album, but the wild inconsistencies undermine the albums strengths.

James Horsfall.

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About Author

Sound designer and composer James Horsfall is currently completing his degree in Music at the Australian Institute of Music. Investigating acousmatic and electro-acoustic works.

2 Comments

  1. Weird.
    I didn’t really interpret this album as an attempt at a soundtrack, as such. Certainly, it has that influence – along with 20th century classical music (a la VSnares’ Rossz Csillag). But it’s obviously also (a la the same Snares album) a hybrid with the DJ Hidden style d’n’b/breakcore. It’s never as dark or as heavy as DJ Hidden, so I don’t see the problem with a new moniker.

    I enjoyed it a lot – particularly the tracks with beats. I thought when he was doing classical shizniz he was hampered by using MIDI instruments. With some string and woodwind players at his mercy, he could’ve achieved something even better – the arrangements themselves are pretty nice.

    Anyway, a differing opinion – I thought it was a great album.

  2. James Horsfall on

    The album’s promo came with the proclamation of ” soundtrack to a yet-to-be-written movie”, thus interpreting as a soundtrack.
    For me personally, if he omitted the ‘classical’ tracks and stuck to the beat driven stuff, in which he has a clear talent, I would have thoroughly enjoyed the album. It would have also been not quite as long, again in my mind a good thing.
    I believe the tracks with orchestration apart from sounding poxy, show large technical holes.

    I like you really enjoyed the more beat driven tracks. I am also a little sad to have some of those negative things to say, because for the first 20 minutes I thought it was a winner. Again for me it is ok, not great.

    Thanks for reading.