Cracks by Eomac
Tempered Techno reveals a heartfelt softened shell
Attentive readers of The Letter will be familiar with Injazero Records, the UK/Turkish imprint specialising in "experimental electronic, avant-ambient and contemporary classical music" and in particular the pair of exemplar label compilations they've released to date. The inaugural collection from 2018 included Don't Fear Your Own Heart by Irish artist Ian McDonnell, aka Eomac, which stood out amongst its peers as the boldest inclusion, admittedly leaning more to Experimental than Ambient or Classical, but now appears to have been a premonition.
A long established musician with a reputation for collaboration and conceptual ideas, McDonnell has produced in various shades of Experimental Techno since 2007 but, notably, never full-on Ambient; there simply hasn't been enough Techno producers turning to Ambient music-making during the pandemic (said no one ever). Who wouldn't jump on a purely Ambient album from Eomac though? The fact that McDonnell's move from balls-out-Techno-floor-fillers-Berlin to fresh-air-and-sweet-birdsong-Wicklow didn't entice him over to the saturated dark side of ubiquitous average chillout muzak speaks volumes of his artistic integrity (honest, surprising, refreshing, reliable).
Fifth solo album Cracks (six if you include his EeOo LP) definitely ain't Ambient, even if the albums ten tracks stem from the same genesis as his Injazero contribution, it's an uncompromising body of work that, while wholly listenable and even rather catchy at times, retains high credibility. Guided by his mood (rather than a concept or responsibility to clublife) Cracks captures a creative mind immersed and focused on his craft, as if heeding his own hearts intimations. Opening gambit Mandate For Murder typifies this by marrying the hard-hitting words of UK rapper Akala with suitably arresting beats (his recent EP with MC Yallah similarly highlighted his composing-with-vocals prowess). With his own vocals Reasons To Live could be lifted from a Kompakt compilation, riding pillion with Superpitcher or Jörg Burger. Different treatment again, the dubby yelling on Falling Through The Cracks may sound like despair for amateur dramatics but compared with the terrifying screams of Orphan Ann's Du kommer aldrig nära igen, it perversely appeals to my desire for noise catharsis.
While Seashells nods to Oscar Mulero's softer side, notable highlights include the gargantuan banging and seeping tension of Portuguese Man O' War and the gently repetitive builds and drops of Canticle. What Does Your Heart Tell You? is aptly titled and consolidates my own projected concept of music made from the heart. After Tundra (his 2015 Lakker album) it's already my most listened to work of his, and that's down to the quality and variety of sounds, and a balanced toying with melody and rhythm. Hell, there's even a few tracks that would fit onto an Injazero comp.