[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
You just never know what you’re in for whenever the Xtraplex label come knocking, case in point: this new album from Olkin Donder sounds nothing like his previous one and hold on to your DNA, this is the first installment of a three part epic that has been four years in the making. I say four years but I’m only approximating, there’s no telling when this was begun or where it will end. The one thing we can do is tag along for the ride, which is a descent into the subterranean bowels of consciousness. These are more experiments in psychological textures than they are musical arrangements… the hint of violet which betrayal brings out or that slowly trickling stream of pure white hot desire.
Another way to approach this is as a symphonic ode to the humming hymns which a person’s blood sings as it moves from one part of the body to the other. There’s nothing bare bones about the feel and depth of Olkin Donder’s latest, it clocks in at just a touch over an hour long which is more than enough time to let yourself be swept away by the shifting reality these pieces clearly are meant to depict. Oh you can try to catagorize what you’re hearing here and I’m sure some of the lazier types out there will do so but I’m going to label this as experimental electronics and leave it at that. The scope is broad and the intent is vast, so vast that the stars themselves seem to shudder whenever I play this.
This opening salvo of synthetic dischord interestingly did come with a series of explanations from the artist on a track by track basis. Single lines of obliquely terse insight; although he permitted these sixteen outside of their controlled, atmospherically sealed environments he did it more for himself than us. Truly, there are some bizarre choices being made all throughout this monster (oh it easily qualifies as such) which are definitely arranged in such a way that one’s own grip on what can or cannot be begins to slip.
As invitations go, this is a gauntlet being thrown down. Think you can hold your own in such a place? Step right up then.
Olkin’s style has become noticeably more subtle, there are some compositions he brandishes which hit all the spots in your head you kept hidden from everyone around you. Yet somehow he knew how to reach them, so while the big names carry on reveling in their irrelevancy this individual along with the rest of his collective continue to dig deeper into the very nature of insight. What is at the core of that spark and where does it orginate from; most importantly, where does it eventually lead to. The artwork for ‘Urbin Kolder’ I think spells that out loud and clear. Whether or not he’s playing a character or reflecting back on our ears as a caricature at this point is unknown but we have two more courses to get through.
Olkin Donder – Urbin Kolder: Expeditions in the Beatless and Beyond (Part One of Three)
Xtraplex Records, [xpl025]