Dutch electronic duo Ralph van Reijendam and Robbert Kok previously graced us with their 2016 album ‘Collapsing Horizons’ (their debut for the n5MD label), and two years on, this fourth album under their Tangent alias ‘Approaching Complexity’ sees their musical approach continuing to broaden and evolve.
In keeping with with previous Tangent albums, the focus here remains on a lush post-IDM palette of sounds coloured by intricate sound design, but the addition of piano keys at the forefront of the nine tracks collected here manages to an increased element of warmth and delicacy into the duo’s work, resulting in what’s often a hybrid of downbeat IDM and modern classical sounds. Indeed, much of this album feels like a film score just begging for visuals to accompany it.
Running in at eight minutes in length, opening track ‘Confinement’ introduces the intricate web of delicate, almost minimalist piano arrangements and fluttering rhythmic textures that makes up much of this collection, though as its title suggests it manages to provide one of the more foreboding explorations here as dark synth washes swirl against echoing muted chords and icy machine chatter.
If its ominous closing section offers up the closest thing to an ‘Alien’ flim score here as dark bass chords prowl in the background against metallic percussion, ‘Awaken’ drags things out of the murk as delicately arranged piano keys dart and dance against a backdrop of muted kickdrums and deep swelling ambience, the barely audible sounds of background whispering adding an unsettling undercurrent against the bright melodic notes.
Elsewhere, ‘Unfolding’ sees glitchy crunching beats and beeping electronic fragments taking the foreground amidst treated washes of ambient background noise and eerie murmured female vocals, before ‘Equilibrium’ takes things out amidst spiralling feathery piano arrangements that call to mind Phillip Glass, the digitally treated afterechoes of the notes phasing and trailing against ambient background drones, in a beautifully understated offering that sees the rhythms dropping away completely. While a lot of ‘Approaching Complexity’ is likely to be familiar territory for downbeat IDM fans, in this case it’s the addition of the piano’s warm acoustic presence that succeeds in introducing some fresh and filmic angles here.