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Album Wed Nov 15 2006

Cold Refuge: Review of Citystream by Arctic Hospital

A self-taught techno producer by age 14, Eric Bray is also known as Arctic Hospital, a pseudonym that reflects his origins. He grew up in Green Bay, WI, where subzero winters and a bland cultural environment left him with few options other than honing his DIY music talent. Locked away in his room, he created techno tracks without much knowledge of the genre, which may explain the originality of sound in Citystream (Narita Records, 2006), Bray’s first full-length album.

Citystream is techno with emotional depth. Hypnotically upbeat yet not jarring, with sensual rhythms and ambient tones, this music blurs the boundaries between techno and electronica. With strains of IDM (intelligent dance music), Citystream crosses genres, appealing to the clubbing set and headphone listener alike.

"Cold Wrapper" is the first song on the album. The first thing you hear is lush, ambient sound, then gradually, pulsating beats with steady 4/4 rhythms melt in. This song takes you into the world of Arctic Hospital, where, paradoxically, the warmth of cold—the tranquility of industrial sound—is remarkably soothing.

Next are "Frost Castings," "Our Metropolis" and "Rain Six", three songs that kick the album into high gear with much of the same sounds—cold and warm—the robotic clicks and clangs, combined with dreamy ambient atmospherics in the background. There is enough mystery and feeling, however, in these songs to break up their repetitive nature. "Rain Six" is the best of the three, as the album takes a different direction here, with a bit more driving, upbeat techno, ideal for the dance floor.

Things start to get interesting with "Sand Remix", a song that leans more heavily towards electronica than techno. "Gift Horse" use drums and synthesized beats to create a hypnotic rhythm. It’s hard to decide which is better: "Tulsytic Love’s" uplifting dance beats or the way this song sounds at the end, drifting slowly into "Rotating Water", a song that is pure ambient. Serene and emotionally stirring, this song is not far from Sigur Ros in its fluidity. At the end of "Rotating Water" the music stops abruptly, followed by silence. Then "Mitten Remix", the most driving, hard-edged techno song on the album starts up, a definitive end to Citystream.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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