IDM is a fickle mistress, as is experimental EDM. Between figuring out how to make the sounds in one’s head, having almost no template to go by and usually needing some sort of concept to explain the weirdness audiences are hearing, it’s only the bravest souls who toil away on such concept albums. Luckily, Seattle-based artist Restless Mosaic has got quite a concept.
The best way to understand said concept is in a video short story the artist himself created, which is written from the perspective of an actual mosaic coming to life and experiencing the world for the first time. The producer behind Restless Mosaic, Brandon Islieb, says it’s a relatable experience so those of us stuck in lockdown, last year and potentially still:
Mosaics are colorful and intricate and expressive, but they’re also fixed to where they are. If you were a mosaic, you’d be restless – wanting to get up and find colors like yours. ‘There’s Much Left to Explore’ captures that feeling, a vital one as a pandemic has grayed the world and left many feeling trapped. It’s about finding horizons and seeing what’s around the next corner. It’s about feeling freedom for the first time. It is made possible by lockdown while being lockdown’s natural predator.
It’s a good way to look at it, and to look past the potential ennui of being stuck. No matter where you might be stuck or for how long, you never know what might be coming next and the appreciation that can arise from that might be one of the best silver linings when it comes to COVID.
The music that accompanies the video is a track from the album, “Tiles on Tiles.” It drives home the point of the short story, written by Rebecca Christiansen, and makes the reader/listener really feel the click of the anthropomorphized tiles on those that are still stuck to the ground. It’s again a very relatable experience, experiencing freedom while seeing those who are still glued down all around you.
Musically, There’s Much Left to Explore is also quite a mosaic, albeit likely much more abstract in places than the concepts that are more literally described in the likes of “Tiles on Tiles.” Taking inspiration from early rave artists like Orbital, Underworld and Future Sound of London, Islieb fits together lots of experimental sound design with IDM-style house and techno tracks. Selections like the title track, “Gyre” and, “Foggy Drain (Saponified)” really channel that intelligent vibe while still being danceable, while others like “Desert Scorpion” and “You Only Want Rain Because You’re on Fire” are so experimental that one couldn’t even deign to assign a fixed genre to them.
There’s Much Left to Explore is a real amalgam of styles and sounds, but the sonic picture they paint together is relatable, emotive and interesting in a way only an IDM/experimental work can be. There’s no telling where Islieb will go next with this project, but rest assured it will be restless.