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Healing Spells, the solo venture of Japanese electronic producer Past Lives, is something of an experimental detour, garnering comparisons to OneOhTrix Point Never and Gold Panda. Vestiges is the culmination of musical and physical exploration. It’s a collection of found sounds, unique textures, and inspiration from travels in India and further afield. He says:
“Vestiges is my biggest project yet, spanning 10 tracks for about 45 minutes playtime. I spent the last 12 months collecting sounds, drawing inspiration from travels and exploring the music styles that I love to create an immersive journey referencing various musical cultures.”
Anyone looking for something along the lines of IDM will do well here. ‘Voices from the Ocean’ and ‘Shivani’s Song’ are lo-fi, with fragile beats. However, other tracks like ‘Sentinel’, ‘Driver’s Song’, and ‘Les Crimes’ have a definite dance-orientation. The aural wanderings here are what truly define the project as experimental.
Album opener, ‘Altitude’ presents an innovative approach to defining the track’s pulse. The consistency of the vocal sample loop sets the rhythm, acting as a beat in itself. Instead, the actual drums/percussion are so heavily syncopated that the mind can’t catch onto them in terms of consistency—they’re chaotic and abstract.
‘Through the City’ continues with this vibe, albeit with a more conventional beat nested among synths and city-ambient samples. There are melodic flourishes with a more exotic influence as the song builds, though the rambunctious atmosphere and competing rhythmic notes carry on jostling for space.
The title track is also more traditional when it comes to melody. Dreamy synths soar in tandem with sample sounds of pouring water. The signature eclectic drums again interrupt and explode intermittently. This can feel contrived and overly abrupt at points, but it does keep the listener alert.
Experimental IDM attracts a niche crowd but it’s an extremely rewarding sub-genre. With Vestiges, Healing Spells delivers a unique, contemporary musical concoction as bold as the inspirations behind it.