Bola, Soup

Released: December 1998 (UK)

Electronic music is often criticized for being too mechanical and alienating. Well, that is a stupid criticism, as anyone who has heard Global Communications' 76:14, Eno's Music for Airports, or Bola's Soup would immediately attest. Bola comes from the same musical (and geographic) universe that has brought us Boards of Canada, Autechre, Gescom, Freeform, and Plaid (among others). However, unlike Autechre's digital chemistry, Plaid's and Boards of Canada's saturday morning cartoon fantasies, and Freeform's weirdness, Soup takes a more subtle, nuanced approach. The genius of the album is the artist's ability to combine the finest elements of ambient/atmospheric music with the most elemental forms of dance. The music takes traditional strings, synth sounds and other hallmarks of ambient music and sets them within buliding block structures, so while each song is beautiful, there is progression and movement from the beginning to the end. From the first song, "Glink," to the final song, "Whoblo," the album is a seamless whole--each song blending into the next, with synth and string sounds mixing with a 909 drums and (the most crucial part) a deep, rich bass that covers everything else like a blanket. This is decidedly a blue album: rich, low tones serving as the basis for beautiful harmonies. The high point has to be "Aguilla," which features one of the few vocal tracks: a chorus singing "cry just a little bit" over an absolutely simple, 3-note drum, bass, and string melody that is both beautiful and danceable. This song is a high point, but the whole album is a high point. Soup has yet to be released in the United States; let's hope it finds a distributor soon, because everyone should hear this masterpiece.


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