Anklebiter – Raintree

Make yourself some coffee or a cup of tea, because now it’s time to delve into the world of Anklebiter. In his latest rendition, we get to follow his journey throughout the sea, distressing calls from the lighthouse and many more interesting visual and braindraining experiences. Somehow, when I listen to Anklebiter it stands out quite much, not because he in any way sounds utterly unique, but because his creations turn out in that unique and interesting fashion you’d want it to. This album features a total of eleven songs, seemingly hand-crafted and filled to the brink with variation.

Starting out with the first song Homonymic, whereas the intro kind of feels like being in a trainstation and slowly watching the trains moving past in slow-motion, like when you’ve experienced something life-changing. Or just when you’ve had your heart broken for the fiftieth time. As it slowly, but surely blends in all kinds of grainy variation, as if you’re looking at yourself through a very small peep-hole. The introductory angst sips through the changing landscape with astonishing clarity. Traveling through the tube of life, within a more narrowed down space, which make us smaller. As if we’re stuck somehow, but steadily floating on and viewing life through a third-perspective.

In this world of Homonymic, we have three different perspectives. Everything seems clear enough in the beginning, then the tension gets more forceful but we go out with a bang – as if we’ve come to an end and solution for the angst that is so present. This just shows how many dimensions that really can be added, and how you play with the transgression of each one, making the feelings flourish inside and taking the visual experience to another level. I would say that these components are the strong side of the first track, whilst it doesn’t seem to lack anything superficial, I’d love to see, hear and feel a longer segment of it. But that’s just my opinion.

Moving on to the second track named Nested which also features Anklebiters steadfast and loyal companion Sheldahl. Whom also participated in an effort of remixing Anklebiter-tracks, which turned into a self-released album of which you can read a review of in Swedish over here. But enough of the small-talk, lets head on and see what this track has to offer.

A piano-ridden piece of nostalgic essence comes travesting in full speed, accompanied by a swirling and tuned down synth that varies in size and time. Sometimes edgy, never too much. Lurking in the background with another one dripping out the last drop of water. When coming out from the distance to spark some energy into the song, accompanied by an arpeggio-like synth traveling from the left to the right in symbiosis with the rest of the soundscape. Turning into a more menacing piece than before, being hit full-on by a pack of drums trying to find their way out of custody.

I would call this the return of the instruments, if it wasn’t for the more visually elemental feeling to it. But surely the comparison can be made, all elements try to find their peculiar way to into the mix. Which gives it this grandiose feeling of everything in the world combined. Ergo: instruments may differ, but they’re complimentary for the large and widened soundscape. As the bombastic feeling slowly fades out, we return to the beginning of the story.

Hearing as it seals itself in a mysterious fashion, also sealing the sound of elements combined. Overall a great song, that builds up well and finishes with a bang (or should I say eek). Modesty combined with a noticeable self-confident sound.

Taking me to the third song on this album, namely When Your Ghosts Outnumber Your Living which also comes with a video for it, directed and produced by Anklebiter (and company) himself. The video itself consists of a man sitting in a corner, within a concrete and contrasted environment. Looking up, as if he’s found the light for the first time in ages. Accompanied by a purple and dark shadowing beneath his eyes, as if he’d slept away his entire life. Once the light hits him, he looks around his environment, it’s apparent that he’s feeling a bit uncomfortable.

After fixating his eye upon something, he stands up and reaches down his backpocket to fetch something. It seems like pictures of him when his life wasn’t such a misery. I could go on all day about this particular clip, but I find it pretty amusing but at the same time somewhat disturbing. A sense of sorrow, which changes into creativity. As if he wants to paint up the world once torn down, as if he wants to stand up again and continue with what he did before. It feels as if you get to know a person for real and observe his gradual “awakening” from misery.

Well, lets move on to the song. It fits the video perfectly. It actually reminds me a lot of the second song, only that the instruments are more sharp in this one. It feels as if they pierce through my ear, but at the same time – they don’t leave me deaf. Like a crystal-clear imagery, balancing on the top of my forehead and slowly managing itself into my brain and throughout the connected wiring. Trying to rewire me, but not into a different being, just trying to provoke the senses and open it up to a new world of sound.

Ideally, it would’ve been a greater experience listening to this song while alone, below the stars. Or with someone adorable. It’s pretty undescribable, but the piercing rhythms search their way into the soul and makes up for what it lacks. Even though, at times, the soundscape can be a little bit too much to handle. But it breaks the pattern of the former songs, somewhat, and begs for the question: time to wake up?

At once waking up to the fourth track Clever Drunk. A distortion-heavy track that makes itself noticeable, not only by the immense piercing sound but also the moments of clarity in it. Which, in a snappy kind of way, changes itself into a pulsating rhythm filled with percussive elements that’d either want you to dance or contemplate with the deep bass, each move it makes. The name of the song also feels like an apt description, since this would be the way you’d be feeling after a long night out. But at least the Clever Drunk found his creative outlet and managed to stay sober enough to appreciate it.

So now that we’re not in distress, lets turn on track number five: The Lazy Pioneers (feat. The OO-Ray). I’m left with shock and awe, even though it’s just the beginning. The more out of tune and distorted sound in the background, accompanies the deeper bass well and also signals for a deeper soundscape. Delving into this pool of internal glory, the sound develops through a technological spring. As if robots have taken care of the universe and try their best to hold onto it, trying to rejuvenate and fix what’s left of it. Almost a saddening visual story, but weird enough; fitting. Whilst those that have already destroyed it are knocking on a fragile door that’s about to be busted open. But, it feels like the right side won. With swirling and distorted synths coming to the rescue, locking and sealing the rest of the magnificent soundscape tight as an airhole.

Now, there could’ve been a different scenario. The bombastic and distorted drums, with rhythm percussions see to that. Within the sixth song Feature Creep (ft. Erode) lies immense destruction. Don’t underestimate the layers that are being created inside one another. One dark and grizzly sounding layer with distortion, and on the other hand; angelic synths trying to pull their way through the mechanical spiderweb. This patchwork surely didn’t manage to hold these cretins out, but there’s light oozing out through the cosmetical holes. Being overrun by a guitar-riffing and withholding the distortion in the foreground, but letting it go by the end of the song. Interesting development throughout, as if I’m already getting used to the thought of the multi-faceted and multi-layered, developed, cyborg-Anklebiter waiting in the shadows and making magic with his far-fetched and technological approach to things, with exact precision of when a build-up becomes boring and when it’s not, fitting the bill perfectly.

Seventh song, The Best People, sounds like a bubble about to burst – or as if the machinery is wrecking itself. As if it’s a cooking potpurri of sounds trying to make their out of the machinery. It’s fairly obvious by now that the Anklebiter we hear in this album is using much more distortion than he’s been using on the older albums. I can’t really make out if this is positive or not, but it surely creates another dimension. It’s quite nice, to be frank, that we see the pre-Anklebiter and the pro-Anklebiter (the latter being Raintree), battling amongst themselves for the development of the sound. Sometimes, you’ll get too distress by hearing all the distortion in this song, but the magical synths make up for the loss of it. I’m not really into much distortion-driven music, at least not this heavily distorted and not for this long. But the ending really makes up for it, as it stops oozing and bubbling from the mecha-stew.

As for the Eigth song, Short Pig, it wasn’t really interesting to begin with. But I liked the rhythms of it and I thought the background synths sounded nice by the ending of it. Otherwise, this must be one of those tracks that aren’t as powerful as the others. Not really holding the standard of the earlier ones.

But the powerfully melancholic song Colorado Recursion (feat. c.db.sn) goes back to the roots of Anklebiters. A more oldschool-sounding song, which also refines the album as a whole and gives it a third dimension. Also, much thanks to c.db.sn. This is the sound I think of when I heard Anklebiter for the first time, but it also feels good that it can be re-inforced within a feature. This one was made for listening to while out by lonely roads and bridges, in the middle of the night, or when you’re waving goodbye to someone you won’t see for a long time. This is the theme of hurt, seriously. The banging drums and the warped bass are texturing the other rhythms within in an excellent manner. Quirky, but not too cheesy. Bombastic, but not too outrageously so. Dreamy, within means for the boundaries of this song. Melancholia, dreamscape and soundscape all mixed together in a emotional blend. Thank you.

The ninth song Illegal In February brings back the distortion and single-handedly destroys the dream. This is a kind of dystopia, or a stressed moment when you’re about to wake up. While it may sound negative, it’s also a bit thought-provoking at times. Making you spin your head around, checking for possible leaks in the roof. If you’re in the Matrix, you’ll understand. Uh-oh, now you know the secret. Well, what are you waiting for? Listen to these one dimensional distortions that make layers with spiraling synths that need their thirst quenched.

Speaking of quenching thirst, we’ve hit rock bottom, or should I say: we’re at the final song now. Song number ten, Raintree (feat. The OO-Ray) blends what I’ve been experiencing throughout. This last song made a good effort on trying to seal a great record, but unfortunetly the distortion is a bit much for me right now. But, I like hard-hitting drums and a matching rhythm, which makes it bearable to listen to. But when the song finally reaches the end, I throw off my headset I reminiscense of why I shouldn’t be exposing myself to an overload of distortion. It’s mainly because it pierces my ears, and because it can get quite unvaried at times.

The Conclusion?

Well, this record really has it all. I just don’t like the portrayal of distortion. But the first segment, of let’s say: one to six really left me with thoughts racing around my head. I was very impressed by the variation in the beginning, but it became tiresome in the end. I don’t really know if this is a two-way path for Anklebiter to choose, but I would’ve chosen the more ambient and less distorted way. Now, that’s just me and I’m not saying that the distortion is bad or anything but the ambient and angelic sounds even better. Therefore, I have come to my conclusion of this album. It gives me very good visual experiences, and it lets you try your way out of the maze. It also has it’s drop of melancholia, nostalgia and angst – which you can make really good music out of. Hopefully, the experience will be even better if listening in an optimal enviroment. So, next time I listen to this record, I’ll take it with me out in the dark and lie down to listen to it beneath the stars. Or active it in a moment of distress, as it had it’s calming effects.

Album art: 6/10

Music: 7/10

My final verdict is 7.5 out of 10.

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