It's not pretty. But for those willing to make the effort, Ena's molecular sound experiments will be liberating.
Like some of Ena's recent releases, Baroque is greyscale, stone-faced and unfriendly, calling back to the lo-fi experiments of his Divided series. In spite of how smudged and foggy this music can be, it's also detailed and intricate. The daunting title track brings to mind ball bearings rolling around in a wind tunnel, all jumpy percussion buffeted by roaring, atonal synth sounds. A fearless DJ might see fit to drop the harsh, groaning groove of "Awaken," but good luck mixing in or out of it. Even something like "Embryo," whose uneven rhythm and off-key chords recall old Raime (they did the artwork), is difficult to wrap your head around. But if you can look past preconceived notions of melody and rhythm, the unpredictability becomes liberating.
Listening to Baroque reminds me of when I saw Ena perform live with Rashad Becker at MUTEK this year. The duo sent all kinds of otherworldly sounds flying across the room's four-point sound system. Some people stood slack-jawed, while others found their own way to dance to the elusive, ever-changing rhythms. Either way, everyone was rapt, wondering what new alien sound would materialize from the ether. Maybe Baroque's title is a hint: it's excessively detailed, even ornate, beautiful for those willing to put in the effort. It's the latest stage in Ena's long journey to reach electronic music's darkest depths, where the only thing that matters is sound.