A foreboding and occasionally beautiful LP of rich ambient and off-kilter techno.
To call Ireen Amnes a techno producer doesn't do her justice. She runs the London nonprofit experimental group Under My Feet., whose remit spans ambient, noise and industrial, and her work has always been planted firmly in the leftfield of the genre. But the sounds and textures on In The Land Of Silence are unmistakably techno, freed from the scaffolding we usually associate with the genre. The results are liberating. Take "My Mind Is Broken," a track that featured on Vatican Shadow's Berghain mix from last year. Here, weary synths drift around the track like wax floating in a lava lamp, underpinned by a mournful string section. This has all the melodrama and the tension of modern techno, but the sounds are given more room to breathe and move around.
It's Amnes' ear for melody that really completes In The Land Of Silence. This is an album made of songs, not just tracks, with a narrative feel and head-turning moments of beauty. The rough, sandpapery climax of "It Was Nice Seeing You" is surprising every time, while "Dissonance" marks a sudden drop into confusion and depression, its elegiac but almost atonal melody recalling the uncertain drift of Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Vol. 1. Even her droning dark ambient, like the closing "Rewind," has a deep well of feeling, a compositional prowess that sets her apart in the techno world.
There are drums on In The Land Of Silence. The metallic lurch of "Life Will Tear Us Apart" could be Regis at 16 RPM. The rippling "Snow Of Tears" is a callback to some of the EPs she's released in the last few years: an agile and precise form of the genre, like techno composed in needlepoint. These tracks and their bursts of rhythm add dynamism and nuance to the album, which packs a lot of ideas into an appealing package that runs just under 40 minutes. In The Land Of Silence is a strong first album that underlines Amnes' strength as a techno producer, one whose approach involves songcraft as much as conventional production.