DEXTRO: Winded (16K Records)


Posted on Jun 4th 2009 01:16 am

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Dextro: Winded

16K Records 2009
09 Tracks. 47mins23secs

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Dextro is the solo project of Scottish multi-instrumentist Ewan Mackenzie, whose debut album, Consequence Music, released in 2007, originally on his own 16K imprint, then reissued a few months later on Gronland, collected beautifully enigmatic and dreamy compositions build around sumptuous electronic textures. The album followed a couple of EPs released on Border Community and Jumblefunk, and another one, featuring remixes by Arkham, Alias and Clark, was published on Gronland that same year.

A year in the making, Winded revisits the cinematic soundscapes of its predecessors, but offers a somewhat different slant on them. Having spent his formative years drumming for a variety of bands, Mackenzie has developed a more organic sound with his latest offering and given his compositions a more immediate and warm feel. While he used some acoustic sounds on Consequence Music, the music on Winded is fuelled by discreet touches of guitar, piano, accordion and live drums. This enriched palette, where acoustic, electric and electronic instrumentations are combined to often stunning effect, gives him the freedom to craft deeply evocative and ethereal pieces and emphasise various emotional points throughout the record. Perhaps a sign of his growing confidence and maturity, it often sounds like Mackenzie has surrounded himself with a full band here, especially on The Pacifist, Momentary, Ilm or Pillar, when he is actually sole in charge.

Bringing together elements of ambient, pop and indie, Mackenzie creates exquisite pastoral pieces which still occasionally evoke the widescreen scope and aged textures of Boards Of Canada, but also now encompass reminiscence of early Air or Blue States. Thankfully, he avoids the pitfall of coffee table music by focusing on the music rather than the atmospheric output. Opening piece Closer slowly rises from a dense cloud of guitars which could have been lifted from a mid-eighties Cocteau Twins record to reveal a gentle piano melody which then grows throughout, while acoustic motifs softly brush against melancholic theme on The Unknown and Iln. Later on, a hazy sunshine pierce through the dense sound formation of Ring Cycle, while Sanna showcases a more upbeat and almost pop sensibility.

In just under fifty minutes, Ewan Mackenzie creates a beautiful evocative soundtrack, with subtle nuances and tones putting each piece in context with the rest of the record. All the way through, Winded charms by its disarmingly simple melodies and gentle ambiences without ever sounding out of touch with contemporary music.


Icon: arrow Dextro | 16K Records
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