It doesn't matter where Becoming Transparent is filed; it's a beautiful record from an adventuresome quartet of musicians who realize that electronic dance music needn't ignore intellectual concerns and complicated structures to achieve bliss or, conversely, disregard curious tonalities on the way down the linear, beat-based path. They understand the pleasures of both the body and the mind, are able to meet on neutral ground (which is, like, near the esophagus?) and scrape their violins with a menace beautifully echoed in their drum & bass workouts.
Becoming Transparent could be a soundtrack (and it actually works well as a companion piece to the recent soundtrack for Darren Aronofsky's film Requiem for a Dream, which features some beat-based music performed with the great Kronos Quartet). It shifts moods and pacing frequently, starting slow and pretty; shifting to faster, female-vocal work; moving faster still. The album roller-coasters like this throughout, successfully merging the delicate wood of the violin with elegant silicon patterns that shift and shake. You can hear it all on one pinnacle of the record, "Downtime Is Becoming Less of an Option," which, over the course of five minutes, shifts from a long string moan to a machine-gun breakbeat to a convergence of both, a convergence that simultaneously recontextualizes the whole.
Those with their feet firmly cemented in the jungle or in the concert hall will no doubt despise Becoming Transparent, because the Freight Elevator Quartet obviously has no desire to pander to the narrow-minded. But those interested in electronic music as a malleable form will be giddy with the shapes and statues the group creates.
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