Sean Canty and Miles Whittaker offer up a vinyl reissue of Ship-Scope that’s every bit as vital a dub techno document as Butterfly Effect.
Atobe’s album was so enchanting when it appeared last year because it seemed to exist out of time. On the one hand, it was excavated electronic music from a bygone era, but on the other, it didn’t sound like much that came before or after. Ship-Scope has the same slate-grey aura, though its fizzing dub techno synths place it more clearly in the lineage of Chain Reaction. The record’s first half is given over to shorter, more experimental tracks: the aqueuous (and beatless) title track features chords that surface like froth on ocean waves. There’s a serenity to the way Atobe’s chords wander across the empty space that should resonate with new age aficionados.
From there, the tunes get more direct. “Plug And Delay” builds a patiently lapping rhythm, with a lead that splashes around the sparse framework. Then “Rainstick” turns to straight-up techno, but it only lasts for a minute and a half. If “Rainstick” is tragically brief, then “The Red Line,” taking up all of the flipside, more than makes up for it. This is Ship-Scope‘s “Butterfly Effect,” a quietly epic techno anthem that stretches out to infinity with elegance and finesse. The bleary melody smears across its foundation, like watching rain trickle down an apartment window. World-weary, sad yet oddly uplifting, “The Red Line” conveys a certain kind of emotion vague enough to feel universal yet distinct enough to overwhelm you. This seems to be Atobe’s peculiar gift.