What does Entangled Lifeforms sound like?
A fusion of modular synths, brooding ambient sounds and some dark techno.
The review of Entangled Lifeforms – Gravity Wellness Retreat
Often music that’s created to inspire collective healing or state of mind ends up being acoustic-driven but the same principles can apply to club and electronica music too. The hypnotic thumpa-thumpa of the beat or bassline can inspire a hedonistic or meditative state too and that’s where Entangled Lifeforms comes in. Entangled Lifeforms is a collaboration between Lesley Kaye and Stewart Shepherd. They mix modular synths with dark, minimalist techno beats and a plethora of found sounds and textures. It’s like new age music went clubbing on an alien planet and it’s incredibly hypnotic. You just need to know going in that everything is built around repetition.
‘Gravity Wellness Retreat’ is their latest album and the four tracks range from seven to ten minutes in length to get you into a trance. They do it in different ways but repetition and a slow twist of frequencies on the synths and sounds form the spine for each track. Opener ‘Psi Deeply’ has radio frequencies and vocal chatter floating around the dark, bass-driven synths and deeps. The linear notes give you a breathing rate to try to sync with the music, although that was a bit lost on me personally. Instead, I found myself drawn into the repetitive grind of the bleepy rhythms and melodies of ‘Gravity Wellies’. The idea is that you are walking around an ancient forest but to me, this was a trance-inducing banger. The same synth phrase bounces around slightly detuned with its retro computer bitrate edge whilst more fluid synth tuns gurgle underneath. The beat gets progressively chaotic and as the song switches in and out different octaves, it is like you are soaring in and above a sonic undergrowth.
‘Planet Haggis’ uses theta soundwaves to get you into an initially calm state but as the ten-minute track develops, a plethora of found sounds seep in. The song becomes gradually more metallic, with aggressive snare drum rumbles and bustling city traffic noise. A computerised voice time stretched out warps the sonic soundscape into something otherworldly too. It feels, like most of this album, like it is designed for a digital campfire dance. The closing track ‘Quantum Polkadot’ was the song that drew me to investigate the album. Using modular synths that bleep and whirr thick sine waves, the track climbs up an exponential ladder of notes and octaves like it is rising up an endless staircase. As the song raises up the keys, the actual melody starts to sound slightly detuned. The background found sounds also emulate where we are on the note scales too. When it starts off low, we have plant and human noises and as it rises up we leave the ground and start to hear bird songs and sky atmospherics before reaching ambient aural noises. As a piece of sonic art, I love the concept of this.
Whilst nothing else quite clicked with me on the album quite like ‘Quantum Polkadot’, that didn’t mean the album wasn’t a success. Through repetition of beats and synths, I found myself getting into a groove and zoning out – especially with headphones. It is designed to send you on a trip and I can imagine it doing that well in a live ceremonial setting. Not for everyone, but fans of experimental techno and acid would get the most out of it. Very hypnotic if it catches your brain’s attention span though. For everyone else, you’ll wonder why the same musical phrase has been going on for the last ten minutes.
Recommended track: Quantum Polkadot
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