IDM is a funny thing to try to place against the recent pop juggernaut that EDM has become but it still has a loyal fanbase and is actually quite important to the development of electronic sounds. With the “I” in IDM standing for “intelligent,” this form of dance music is really at the leading edge of experimentation and creating new sounds. Tokyo-based artist Healing Spells definitely falls into the sound-pushing category with his latest LP Vestiges, as he turns IDM into true experimental electronica and then takes it back again. This album seems to really push the beat matrix in dance music in a way we’ve not seen from Healing Spells before. Fans will recognize his characteristic bleeps and bloops, lofi drum samples and 80s-inspired melodies but a discernible beat proves elusive in many of the tracks.
Anyone looking for a beat in this mass of sound “vestiges” (hence the album’s name?) would be wise to do two things: listen to the vocal loops and not expect the drums or snares to provide a beat. The vocals loops almost always repeat themselves in a consistent pattern on this release, so once the listener finds that loop in tracks like “Altitude,” “Through the City” or the title track, the brain can sort of construct its own followable rhythm. If you rely on a drum or snare coming in, however, forget it. They come in at random intervals and often don’t lead anywhere.
Healing Spells has become sort of a sonic trickster with Vestiges and the IDM here has become so intelligent that trying to make too much sense out of it can actually feel like an IQ test. That said, there are a lot of really beautiful sounds on this album and so if listeners can relax and just let the music take them on that journey of not-so-random randomness that the best experimental artists construct so well, Vestiges proves to be an engaging and emotive release that’s danceable and even a bit tribal.
Vestiges is out now and can be streamed on Spotify.