Mythical snowscape moments

Previously, TEC cast an eye over preston.outatime’s 2019 album Coplanar (see review), which showcased the enigmatically-named electronic artist’s captivating take on electronica. That album jumped around a lot in style and approach which included ambient (‘Semblance, Resemblance’), baroque electronica (‘Recursion’) and pastel, synthwave tones on the title track.

Mirror Radius represents the third album from the Brighton-based musician, a release which is described as being more stripped-back and slower than previous releases. “I work on a lot of small musical ideas all the time if that’s small generative programmed patterns, long drones, collected sounds, Field recordings,” Preston explains, “This all gets collected and labelled and when it comes to making a larger piece of work like an album or EP it often comes together quite fast, all the hard work is already done, it’s like arranging parts of an installation or a collage.”

Where Coplanar employed themes that could be categorised under ‘euphoric’, Mirror Radius embarks into a more serene and sedate landscape. It’s an album that invites contemplation. “I think about it quite visually, where it fits in an imagined scene/image or what it might conjure in the listener’s mind.” Reference points for the album include such varied acts as Radiohead, Bowery Electric, Apparat and early Artificial Intelligence compilations.

There are elements here which seem reminiscent of seasoned veterans such as Digitonal or Scanner (both masterful at evocative ambient soundtracks themselves), but preston.outatime seems to be an artist capable of carving out his own particular musical space.

The album’s wintery vibes, which seem to conjure up snow-bound landscapes and arctic desolation, seems to be quite a timely release at this time of year. Certainly, opening track ‘Permafrost’ seems to invoke strong visual ideas through its use of isolated piano notes, washed over with synth textures. There’s a wide, spatial feel at work here which hints at mythical, otherworldly vistas.

That concept carries over on the whispery, gauzy vibe of ‘Focusing Out’, while ‘Postshadowing’ is peppered with crystal-like tones and a gentle, buzzy vibe. There’s a more ambient quality to tracks such as ‘Antechamber’, which invites (as the album intends) reflection.

Meanwhile, the title track on Mirror Radius is driven by tight beats while layers of electronic moods shift across it. Intended as a composition that projects “a sense of both movement and inertia” at the same time, that slightly disconcerting idea is served up with a flourish.

There’s a physical, tangible element lurking on ‘Slitscan’; an analogue vibe which calls to mind Boards Of Canada. ‘Cut The Knot’ is, apparently, intended to be “epic and cinematic” which it manages to pull off quite successfully, with its plaintive, sweeping guile. Later, it blends in more grounded beats and subtle, crunchy synth elements which still continues that filmic sense of wonder.

The album closes with the ethereal ‘Backmask’, a haunting composition which is picked out with shimmering synth fills and a pulsing beat that resonates.

Mirror Radius, on paper, could easily be read as another musician indulging in generic electronic noodling (which is something that’s become a bit of an unwelcome trend in recent times). However, the material here has clearly got a deft hand at the wheel and what emerges is an emotive, captivating sonic experience.

Mirror Radius is out now.