Epoq, Scintilla

Released: July 2002

They filmed The Lord of the Rings movies in New Zealand, right? Well, here's an Australian release that would fit quite nicely into the background of those scenes in Rivendell, as elves and dwarves and men argue with each other about the future of the world. Indeed, this is a work that has history and myth written all over it. It belongs in that long tradition of electronic works that fuse ambience with static, crafting rich, epic tracks out of sweeping melodies, sampled vocals, and crinkly, crackly beats. It's the kind of work that makes you want to sit back and float around on clouds and watch magical creatures eat each other and crash into mountains.

It reminds me, to some extent, of Boards of Canada's Music Has the Right to Children, only instead of focusing (as B of C do) on the sounds of childhood, Epoq focuses instead on the sounds of electronic music itself. I hear echoes of works of such early electronic artists as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Tangerine Dream, Raymond Scott, Can, Vangelis, and Brian Eno; I hear the echoes of later "pioneers" like The Orb, Orbital, Autechre, Aphex Twin, and Black Dog; I hear the echoes of contemporaries like Bola, Marumari, Aspen, ISAN, Hermann & Kleine, and Phonem. In short, I hear a lot of electronic music's history on this record.

Of course, it is easy to jump from words like "history" and "influence" to a word like "derivative." But tracks on this disk draw from such a huge range of musical styles and sounds that it is impossible to call this work derivative of any one style or artist. So it's not the most original work in the world. So I've heard backwards, distorted vocals and sweeping synth lines before on earlier works. So what? Originality is a lot less important than craft, and Scintilla is a beautifully crafted work, one that manages to effortlessly blend a diverse variety of styles and sounds--from soothing ambience to jagged noise, from sampled effects to guitar feedback, from sweeping bass lines to backwards, distorted vocals. Epoq manage to take these very disparate sounds and blend them together seamlessly.

According to my dictionary, a "scintilla" is a tiny amount of something. Epoq's Scintilla is a tiny record filled with a lot of beautiful melodies and memorable moments. It's a good record to listen to on a hot summer day, sitting in a park, ignoring everything around you except the sweeping synths and jagged beats that melt into your brain lift up memories of earlier days and earlier sounds.

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