Nedry - Condors

Richard Wink 24/02/2010

Rating: 4.5/5

Let's cut through the bullshit and get straight to the dilemma that surrounds Condors. What we have here is arguably the first play to make dubstep palatable. If we are to draw comparisons with the mainstream rise of trip hop in the nineties, then if Burial's Untrue is the equivalent to Massive Attack's Blue Lines then this album could potentially be the daughter of Portishead's Dummy.

In a sense what I've just written can be discarded as redundant twaddle. Because we critics are having a trifle difficult time explaining Condors. It's strange, an accessible record, that fuses dub step with post-rock (another critically praised but seldom widely accepted genre) is raising so many questions. There are a lot of why's? And a lot of how's? Why is this album so boldly engaging? How can this album seem radical yet familiar?

Ayu Okakita's vocals hold the key to solving this riddle. Original, tempestuous, oscillating wildly with the thuds, booms and echoes; she alters between vulnerability and incandescent rage. What range! Portraying emotions that border on artificiality; as if someone has created a bot from the DNA of Bjork and Elizabeth Fraser, and it is this artificiality that juxtaposes wonderfully with the sub-bass beats and irregular sonic twitches.

I think the key to evaluating an album like this is to wait until dark, to get inside a car (if you don't own one then steal one) preferably one with a CD player, or one of those MP3 player adapter thingies. Press play and then take a ride with Condors as your soundtrack. Does it bring the streets to life? Has the Acle straight become strangely illuminated?

Perhaps the road best taken is the A42 on which the journey begins, a descent down into the cellar, before the brief eerie still, and then comes the dull boom which startles, rattling the skeleton. Layers and atmosphere, each sound impeccably bred from a laboratory containing only laptops and synthesizers, with the stray guitar lingering like the unluckiest of black cats, swishing its tail proactively over proceedings.

Condors will probably rub a few people up the wrong way. Because it lacks grit, it doesn't come from a bedroom Tower Block recording hub, it comes from a studious scientific environment. The beats are not ballsy products of a lawless land, they stem from safely tested sterile experiments. Perhaps this is what the mainstream needs, a coffee table sound that soaks in, unsettling the suburban calm.