How does it sound? Well, for all its bedroom techno aesthetic, iPhonica is rounded, spacious and full. As it flips between pretty, glitchy electronica ("Simulant"), Hacker-esque electro ("Warm Launderette") and sleek minimal house ("Replicator"), Wheeler coaxes a surprising variety of moods, textures and styles from his limited set-up.
It seems that recording on an iPhone made Wheeler concentrate on melody and arrangement, rather than losing himself in the process of endless tweaking and EQing. "Working within the limitations of an iPhone," he says, "has made me a better musician, if anything." In iPhonica's best moments, that is plain to see. Had he been tougher in the edit (this album runs to an indulgent 16 tracks), iPhonica might have been a minor classic in the field of super-sensitive ambient electronica. As peaceful and contemplative as a Japanese garden, "Vigil" is gorgeous, as is "Patience," a cascade of glistening chords that evokes both New Order and the unreal beauty of the Twin Peaks soundtrack. The closing song, "Let's Go Home," tops both. Pregnant with emotion, it's a graceful ballet in binary data and simple drum sounds. If this is indeed the last Vector Lovers release (Wheeler has said it will be), it's a perfect way to sign off.