EUGLOSSINE – BLUE MARBLE AGONY (GENOT CENTRE, 2020)

The Florida-based experimental artist continues to build his futuristic world that straddles the line between ambient synth soundscapes and an odd kind of futuristic jazz.

Euglossine (born Tristan Whitehill) is a master of musical world-building. Within his music, there are sounds rarely heard anywhere else – at least not in this particular combination. Weaving together digital synth vistas with more organic elements, the result is a collection of ambient, futuristic soundscapes that also offer sentimental snippets of acoustic guitar, flute, and warm percussion. His last album, Psaronius – released last February on Orange Milk Records – used at its central theme the conflation of modern technology with ancient patterns in nature. Here, the themes are slightly different but the sonic result is quite similar.

With Blue Marble Agony – released Oct. 4 on the Prague-based imprint Genot Centre and available exclusively on cassette and digital download – Whitehill’s inspiration comes from “coping with the environment as it changes and as evil figures fighting for power, yet harming the nature they require to live” (according to the press release). It’s a heady topic, and particularly relevant in our current day and age. Whitehill’s coping mechanism seems to the harnessing of technology into something both soothing and endlessly creative. There’s an almost “new age” vibe to the songs, but the innate complexity of the music seems to undermine such a hoary, often reviled genre. “Skyblight” opens the album with tuneful positivity, as synth figures dance around ever-changing tempi and processed, wordless vocals hang over the song like innocuous cloud cover. “Cyber prog” is one way the label describes this album, and that’s not far off the mark.

About the worst thing you could say about Blue Marble Agony is that the tracks don’t really provide much variety – if you’re a fan of synth-drenched ambient music sprinkled with jazzy guitar noodling (not a bad thing, for sure), you’ll be in heaven here. While Whitehill was obviously at home within the twisted experimental world of Orange Milk on previous releases, he seems to offer a slightly more relaxed, user-friendly variation on experimental synth music. Even on slightly darker tracks like “N-tropic,” there’s a warmth to the industrial-tinged blasts. Likewise, the title track provides a caffeinated urgency, but the song’s frenetic nature is more playful than anything else, reminiscent of Frank Zappa’s warm, futuristic Synclavier experiments.

Whitehill closes the album with “Tubingensis Mould,” a song that almost sounds like his attempt to create a low-key bit of dance music, even when some folk-ish acoustic guitar strumming makes an odd but welcome appearance. as Euglossine, Tristan Whitehill revels in creating worlds that are unique and tweaked, but full of rich creativity. Blue Marble Agony is another admirable chapter in his musical journey.

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