Review- “Instrumental/Electronic 01”- théan

reviewed by Michael Thomas

Every once in a while I am presented with an album that throws me for a loop. Whether it’s in the form of songs with several melodic changes or just plain weirdness, these are always the albums that challenge me both as a listener and a critic.

Instrumental/Electronic 01 is just such an album. The man behind the album is Théan Slabbert, an Ottawa-area musician who spent time arranging music for Kalle Mattson. Don’t go into this album expecting lots of pop hooks, though. Be prepared for an assortment of sounds produced by numerous instruments.

Even the track list intimidated me at first- song names like “Branders by die Slagters” and “Opgewonde” don’t exactly roll off the tongue. But if you spend some time with these tracks you may come to appreciate the weirdness.

The aforementioned “Opgewonde” is a good track to listen to as a sampler of the album. It’s filled with layers and layers of percussion that give the song an exotic, tribal beat. “Grzly Wntr” is probably the strongest song on the album thanks to the addition of Nick Galuban on clarinet and Daniel Ramjattan on classical guitar. The added instruments give the song a defined aura of mystery.

On the “weird” side of the album are “Branders by die Slagters (for Morton Feldman)” and “Improvisation For a Broken Metronome.” The former is a song that clocks in at over 10 minutes and is filled with twists, turns and a huge variety of sounds. It changes melodies several times, such as featuring organ sounds at three minutes and more ambient noise around the five minute mark. The latter is filled with all kinds of buzzing sounds from what I assume to be electronics (Slabbert is listed as playing “electronics, fretboards, keyboards and percussion”).

“Klippe (for Jimmie” is interestingly played on a guitalele (I had to Google it to figure out what that was) for an interesting sound, and “Tune For Piano + Prepared Piano” features, obviously, a piano played in a more classical style. It’s an unpredictable end to the album, just as unpredictable as the album itself.

Instrumental/Electronic 01 is like walking into an exotic greenhouse. You may not recognize the specimens you see, but you may ultimately be impressed with their beauty. The album is a name-your-price Bandcamp download.

Top Tracks: “Grzly Wntr”; “Opgewonde”

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

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