Published February 17, 2015
DADA is the musical outlet of one Sigtryggur Ari Jóhannsson, who creates music inspired by mid-century analog synthesizers and the software of the beat-driven modern age. His album ‘Aeoline’ is an engaging mix that will appeal to many audiences. Those familiar with early computer music will sense an homage to works by Stockhausen and Kraftwerk. And as for those who just want a well-composed set of tunes for casual listening, they get a pop-inflected mix that varies between darkly ambient, quirky, and cheery.
DADA’s album is smartly produced, as Sigtryggur is careful to not let too many instruments or effects clutter up the tracks. His waveforms shift quickly from one to another in the same way an instrumentalist might improvise, as square and sawtooth waves are mixed into multitrack recordings. The keyboard and real drums in “Untitled Piano” are a great addition to synth strings and swarming clicks of electronics. “Arpeggs” has a subtle exoticism, with a slightly out-of-tune track, as if Eastern instruments morphed with vocoded vocal samples. “Steini2” offers atmospheric flute tones along with an 8-bit video-game motif in the background, over the top of which pitches are swept like turns of the radio dial.
Few moments seem out of place on DADA’s album, though “Micro Piano” begins with an Aimee Mann-like piano that takes the listener to an unexpectedly melancholic place, then quickly turns too cheery for its own good. Overall, however, the album settles in that interesting place between activity and rest: interesting enough you want to pay attention, but predictable enough that you don’t have to be focused on every detail to enjoy.
“Step Seq” is the concluding track to ‘Aeoline’, a collision of birdcalls and goose quacks and pitch-bending tones that fall into a sparse silence. One can’t quite tell if the noises are a mix of real-life sounds and electronics; perhaps everything is synthesized. But in DADA’s world, it wouldn’t be so bad if everything were inspired by the inputs and outputs of that trusty old Moog in the corner.
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