Blankfield – Fast Forward to End of East [EP] – 3.5/5
Finding somewhat reliable reviews of doujin music seems near impossible, and so instead of continuing my exploration in this manner sought out as much as possible to skim over and filter and process to see what stands out from the crowd (so you can expect more to come). With Blankfield it didn’t take long; these touhou pieces re-arranged by ‘warinside’ manage to combine an aggressive Power Metal tone with strong Electronica influences, and the resulting sound is reminiscent of a progressive and instrumental form of ‘Machinae Supremacy.’ Void of overtly excessive speed, each track is instead constructed through thick walls of electronic synths and guitars layered over one another with only the bare backbone of the drum beat keeping the time in the back.
At no point will the instruments be content with playing simple chords either; making gratuitous use of harmonising riffs and gradually shifting tremolo-picked lines, as one element changes it shifts the entire piece into new territory and the resulting atmosphere succeeds in producing more groove-laden and tension-inducing riffs in 20 minutes than most manage over a full length release. Often thick and heavily distorted, the guitars as a result of this compositional style at times come off as mere ‘noise,’ successfully providing the core rhythm for the track but doing little more. Likewise, the drums will often find themselves lost in the backing for a good portion of the release; in fact it’s the production that ultimately proves to be the main issue presented here.
With so many layers presented, the production work that needs to be done so as to balance all the volume levels and make each individual line as coherent as one another requires an impeccable ear, and whilst many tracks gets this right, almost as often will all the instruments that are vying for dominance collide and it simply sounds a little confused. Factor in the many short interludes – an ‘Electronic Dance’ beat on the opening track or the occasional ambient-esque passage – it can easily become too much in such a short period of time; what should have been a welcome diversion from their core style instead feels out of place, transitioning too rapidly and feeling too disjointed to comfortable keep up.
For all its short glory, it remains wonderfully varied not only surviving repeated listens, but the issue of sounding confused becomes less prevalent with each time. Whilst doing little to put them above and beyond the rest of their competition, it is their unique flair that brought my attention. The manner the tracks are arranged shows nothing if not a willing to push themselves to create such a multi-faceted structure that feels complex without being pointlessly technical. Only with one other earlier EP to their name, it would seem he is still perfecting his style but with this distinct feel it would be interesting to see what he can deliver next.
Over the years this has grown into my own personal project, reviewing the artists that I discover and interest me. If you wish to see more of my work, particularly my more metal-orientated material, you can find me as a regular contributor for the online magazine
Posted by T. Bawden Sunday, 31 January 2010