Named after an electronic logic circuit that only outputs information when the inputs flowing into it differ, XOR Gate is the latest project of Detroit electronic producer Gerald Donald, formerly one half of Drexciya alongside the late James Stinson, and best known for his productions as Dopplereffekt and Arpanet.
As the title hints, Donald’s fascination with science and physics remains firmly in place on this debut mini-album ‘Conic Sections’, which is composed of eight themes all woven seamlessly into a single thirty minute long track.
To be fair, the emphasis upon sparse cycling elements and occasionally austere textures here often doesn’t sit a million miles away from Donald’s explorations as Dopplereffekt, and there’s a sense that a lot of the music here could easily provide the accompanying soundtrack to excited quarks spiralling inside the Large Hadron Collider.
There’s also nothing in the way of beats to be found here. After opening with a spiral of cycling analogue arpeggios and echoing metallic tones, brooding bass chords and icy New Wave-tinged synths gradually begin to unfurl, the track’s gliding centrifuge-like hum becoming completely overtaken by an undertone of soulful melancholy.
Just as a soothing sense of contemplation is beginning to lock in though, Donald suddenly drags things out into the cold darkness of space as harmonic ringing tones hang like satellite transmissions over a backdrop of ominously surging bass synths, only for icy arpeggios to slowly worm themselves into the foreground against eerily distorted minor-key pads.
If there’s a sense of things being dragged towards pure paranoia, as waves of electronic distortion suggest a radio tuning between stations, the serene ending section comprised of elegantly cycling arpeggiated notes and glowing background ambience provides a welcoming landing pad, as well as the most classically informed moment here. Immersive and intriguing inner cinema.