It’s been a good ten years since we last heard from New York-based electronic producer Joseph Fraioli under his Datach’i alias – indeed since the release of 2006’s ‘Shock Diamonds’ album on Sublight, he only briefly emerged a couple of years ago for his collaboration alongside Interpol’s Daniel Kessler as Big Noble. He’s certainly been busy though during those intervening years, spending the last decade building up his own sound design company Jafbox Sound and becoming increasingly interested in modular synthesisers. Indeed, this latest collection ‘System’ apparently had its origins in modular synth performance videos created by Fraioli, which Timesig label boss Aaron Funk (Venetian Snares) then suggested he should approach with the intention of crafting a full album.
Constructed solely with his vast Eurorack modular synthesiser system, the 16 tracks collected here see Fraioli crafting a distinctly IDM-centred collection that manages to marry glittering elegance with a sense of underlying darkness and melancholy. Opening track ‘In The Field With Brian’ opens things gently at first with an ambient intro that sees warm noodling analogue synths bending and refracting against muted pads in a manner that calls to mind Boards Of Canada’s similarly wide-eyed yet eerie segues. From there, ‘122112’ follows this placid beginning with a frenetically busy wander through metallic breakbeats and ominous descending chord sequences that balance the occasional chiming bell-like tone with squelching acid synths and sense of underlying doominess before things suddenly decelerate down into the sort of glittering ambient outro that you’d associate with Tangerine Dream.
‘Synthetic Metals’ meanwhile unleashes a gamelan-style rush of accelerated multi-timbral metallic sounds and punching kickdrums, before ‘Monarchs’ offers up what’s easily one of this collection’s biggest highlights, as weary-sounding synth pads wind against jittering percussion and a widescreen backdrop of faded-sounding harmonies, in what’s easily one of the most deeply contemplative offerings on show here. Elsewhere, ‘VCO-2RM Acid’ sees Fraioli giving the aforementioned Venetian Snares a good run for his money in the hyper-accelerated breakcore stakes as spasmodic broken rhythms jittering and ricochet against a curiously calming backdrop of melodic pads and burbling arpeggios. A more than welcome comeback from Datach’i that sees Fraioli managing to draw an astonishing breadth of sounds, moods and atmospheres out of his frighteningly huge modular synthesiser rig.