Released: December 1999
ISAN's first album, Beautronics, is a lot of fun, but it is nowhere close to being as intelligent, mature, and interesting as their sophmore effort, Salamander. Everything about this album is intelligent, mature, yet filled with wonders. The simple, building block structures (cold-to-medium tempo, blues, browns, and oranges) are filled with CGD bumps and nudges, FX echoes, 303 bass lines (sometimes distorted, sometimes not), and a wonder of other sounds, melodies, and effects. The songs are simple, to be sure, but they are never simple-minded. Take "Twentyfive Thirtyone." It begins with a simple keyboard line and minimal 909 beat. Then synth strings float in, adding a lush orchestral feel to the minimal beat. As the song progresses, the keyboard line changes, moving higher and lower at various points, but never diminishes; the same goes for the strings, which float in and around but never out. It is a simple song, but a very complex one, one that can bear repeated listens because the simplicity belies its underlying complexity. Other songs, like "Still, Blue," are more obviously complex, with a plethora of CGD, FX, and found sounds coalescing into an abstract IDM loop; but even here, the complexity is often shrouded in simple melodies so that the loop is often obscured. ISAN is a top-notch outfit; this second album proves it. Let's hope they get more attention this time around.
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