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splendid > reviews > 12/5/2005
Zark Behida
Zark Behida
Isis
Trotch


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Step Scarlet"

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Editor's Note: For the last nine years, Splendid's reviews have been edited pretty aggressively -- for grammar, punctuation, spelling, usage, accuracy, coherence and thoroughness of argument, and even adherence to "house" style. There are two reasons for this. First of all, I've always believed that for online magazines to succeed, they must offer the highest quality content possible. Second, how can you trust a publication to recommend music if its writers can't tell the difference between there, their and they're? That said, editing is extremely time consuming, and on many occasions over the last nine years, I've wondered what would happen if I took a week off and let the reviews go through completely untouched. Long story short: this week, from December 5th through December 10th, is that week, and the review you're about to read is untouched by editorial hands. Will this new (and very temporary) hands-off policy make a difference? Will you even notice? We'll see...

An underlying epic (or mock epic) narrative may run through Isis (You can find artwork and text for each song on Zark's website), but this 22 track offering from electronic artist Blake L. Markle is really about one thing: beats. With splashes of jungle, drum-and-bass and breakbeat, Markle relies on rhythms to create a steady sonic core; shoegazey melodic loops and dubwise bass splotches may try to offset the throb and the thrill, but they often remain firmly subjugated to drum machines, as in "Step Scarlet". Markle's intense focus on one element doesn't constrict his aesthetic, though: an uneasy undercurrent upsets his chattering beats. Drums hiccup, fade out, take a breather for half a measure, and all in all subtly stray from the beaten path without losing their sense of inertia.

Isis is at its most sublime when it's elaborating on its ambient edges, however. "Weri Farrah" devotes as much energy to its synths as its drum loops, forming a soothing patchwork of mellow tones, while "The Unia"'s fluctuating keyboard patterns might be the most vital sounds on the record.



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