Album: Tether Together
Released: August 2017
My first impression of Tether Together was essentially this: “This is the future of electronic dance music.” The EDM moniker, in fact, barely begins to encompass this lush tapestry of electronic composition, instrumental features and thoughtful sampling. Ultimately a mellow and uplifting ride, it’s also dark in places, providing all the components of a complex and nuanced dancefloor journey.
To lay down the scene of this seeming contradiction of an album, I’ll submit that this is clearly music that’s designed for moving to, ideally in an outdoor setting. This is why I’m inclined to say that ‘ambient electronica’ doesn’t quite do it justice as a genre categorisation (although it’d still be a valid description). With strong grooves and dynamic bass, this music is as at home in the ‘dance’ category as it is as the the soundtrack for a relaxed Sunday morning cleaning out the garage. Tracks like ‘Fabulon’ and ‘Earth Freq’ are particularly fun and even funky, while managing to retain a relaxed, organic quality.
At the same time, I can’t help but see it as a concept album, a term which the producer himself uses in the album notes. The collection of songs is tied together with a series of speech samples, presumably drawn from film, talks and interviews, that are primarily concerned with the human emotional experience. The intelligent placement of these selections adds up to themes of personal growth and the connections between people and things. There’s an evolutionary bent overarching all of this, and it’s delivered in a key of realist compassion that I’d be happy to see more of in this genre.
Really, there’s no contradiction going on here at all. I honestly believe that electronic dance music can be ambient, low key, cerebral, down to earth, conceptual, fun, tightly produced and more, all at the same time. This album indicates that it’s a thing.