Given that Martin Wheeler created and recorded iPhonica on a smart phone, using just Sennheiser HD 25 headphones and Blip Interactive's Nanostudio app, it could very well be remembered as "that iPhone album." The idea of recording ad hoc—in Berlin cafes, on the Yorkshire moors, in a doctor's waiting room—may excite producers stuck in attic studios. Others will dismiss it as a gimmick. Wheeler's luxuriantly emotional electronica certainly deserves better than that. You cannot entirely separate the process of creation from the end results, but those results transcend any novelty factor.
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.
Buy Vector Lovers - iPhonica at
Tracklist: Vector Lovers - iPhonica01. Nakadori
02. Warm Launderette
08. Yesterday Is Gone
12. Big City Loner
14. Final Wish
15. Sender To Nowhere
16. Let's Go Home
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