preston.outatime – Coplanar

Forces and form

Sometimes, the path to new electronic artists comes through unexpected means. When Battery Operated Orchestra released their remix album Snared (see TEC review previously), the remixes included the work of independent electronic musician and producer preston.outatime (aka Preston Parris).

Having produced underground electronic music since the early 2000s, preston.outatime’s background includes producing DnB and hip-hop. More recently, his sound has evolved away from the dance floor to include more diverse electronic elements.

His previous work included his first commercial EP Enceladus, later followed by first full album Saros Cycles – a release that looked at a “deeper exploration of synthesis and ornamentation, attempting to strip the complexities of over-production”.

Unusually, the song of choice for his BOO remix was the haunting ambience of ‘Borders (Fall)’. But the Brighton-based musician managed to preserve the twilight feel of the original, while also adding in layers of percussion and subtle electronic effects to enhance the composition.

His latest album Coplanar has been conceived as a more mature outing than his previous releases. Here, the effort has been to combine electronics with more organic input – including found sounds and field recordings. The end result is a series of often angular compositions that play around with the idea of space and form that Parris refers to as “aural dioramas”.

Many of the tracks on this album originally started out as longform compositions and were crystallised after being played live. “Every song on Coplanar is a small glimpse or splinter from the real world” suggests Parris, “What those fragment expands into is unclear, but the music is the process of that expansion.”

Opening the album, the cosmic ‘Colinear’ delivers synth pulses with an oddly mesmerising quality. ‘Downcast’, despite the track’s title, has a similarly bright, warm aspect to it (and is also the longest composition on the album).

Elsewhere, ‘Semblance, Resemblance’ tracks closer to an ambient/Tangerine Dream flavour. The album then shifts a gear on ‘Fulcrum’, with its sub-bass muscle and fractured electronics.

‘Thermals’ (which is also the first single culled from the album) is billed as “unfurling geometry and pairing of forces and form”. This delivers a glitchy unsettling soundscape peppered with indistinct vocal samples.

There’s a more baroque aspect to ‘Recursion’ with a weightier foundation and bass tones front and centre.

Meanwhile, the album’s title track has a crystalline quality to it with some pastel tones that throw a nod to synthwave. It later transforms into a layered collage of harsh sounds.

There’s aspects of these compositions that call to mind the work of Liverpool’s Lo Five or Princess Century (aka Maya Postepski). But it also has hints of Digitonal with its use of space and structure. It also tracks quite close to the work that the Bit-Phalanx label put out, so fans of those more experimental sub-genres of electronic music will find themselves on familiar ground.

preston.outatime is attracting more interest for remix work (outside of BOO, he’s also recently worked with cinematic duo Liotia), but Coplanar demonstrates that he’s more than capable of ploughing his own path.

Coplanar is out now.