The sonic architecture of Recursive Iterations is scissor-sharp. As well as ultra-sharp digital debris, Bristol-based composer Ryan Teague incorporates neo-classical and post-rave elements into this effervescent world. But the music, instead of stuttering and ambling drunkenly, has a feeling of connectedness despite its multiple strands and webs. Although there are multiple fragments of sound, they ghost in and out at regular intervals, and one can anticipate when a specific sound will reappear. This is thanks to Teague’s custom-written algorithmic system, which sequences harmonic and rhythmic events in ever-shifting patterns. The result is recurring, episodic music: bold, strangely removed, and yet engaging the listener 100% of the time.
With everything going on, and with different elements interplaying with one another, Teague’s programming also allows for copious amounts of space between the tones, not just living within the record but thriving within it, and this gives the music a surprisingly ambient edge. Teague uses themes of absence and inertia (which is where the feeling of space comes into play), and was influenced by the Japanese concepts of ma (negative space) and the enso (circle). In another life, this could be a dislocated or disconnected album, the computer making it distant and cold enough to appear sterile. But there’s a party going on here, with all of the different digital elements converging on one location while the parent (Teague) is away, and all of the tones carry different personalities and appearances. Teague flips the music upside-down.
The tonal lottery makes for interesting music, because there’s a noticeable tension and release within the different tones as one waits for them to come around again – waiting for them to fizzle and then explode. This creates connecting strands of vastly differing sounds, all working together as one; many ingredients add up to a delicious meal, and the same is true here. There’s also a lot of space inside this motherboard. Nothing is cramped. Neither are things accidental, even in the twisting and gentle contortions of its music. Things work themselves out.
It’s much more than cut & paste electronica. The chiming sounds are very retro, reminiscent of a Windows 95 start-up screen or the desktop wallpaper of a crystal sea and a photo of Sega’s Ecco the Dolphin, giving hints of Vaporwave among its airy ambient apparitions as harder electronics slowly melt away into an ambient world. The record grows in distance as the microchips and processors die off, becoming obsolete. On a deeper level, it could point a finger at throwaway culture. Expiry dates arrive earlier and earlier, and culture feeds the need to dispense of something once it’s out of fashion. But Teague recycles his array of sounds, creating an ever-fresh record. Recursive Iterations is out October 25 via Morr Music, and it’s a stellar work.