Subminimal – Sinian (review)

December 2014 definitely belongs to Möller Records. Just 2 weeks before the end of the year this Icelandic label released Sinan, a debut album of the artist known as Subminimal. It’s brilliantly produced LP that blends ambient spaces with drum’n bass. High quality electronic music – specialty of Möller Records.

subminimal fotoSubminimal is Tjörvi Óskarsson. He’s been making music for many years with his roots in jungle and drum´n bass music of the 90´s with a big influence of artists like Photek, Source Direct, J-majik, klute, matrix. He has written, produced and recorded the whole album by himself. But the way to debut was difficult and complicated. At the beginning Sinian supposed to be an EP and it was going to be released in January 2014. But the material wasn’t ready so the release date had to be delayed. That gave Subminimal the opportunity to expand the record and it grew up to a full LP. Finally the album has been ready for releasing in June, but then it had to be delayed again. The reason was that Tjörvi was moving to Spain for study „Visual Effects & Animation”.

As a result the album had been 2-3 years in the making. The latest tracks had been finished this spring, the oldest – Carbon is almost 3 years old. So we could call Sinian an overview of tracks written from 2011 until 2014. But the choice wasn’t easy. There were a lot of tracks that didn´t make the cut, including ‚Lifir á því sem hann segir’ with an Icelandic rapper Blaz Roca.

Sinian coverThe whole album consists of 10 tracks and it was recorded at Subminimal home studio in Reykjavik. Most of tracks are a mix of hardware and software. Tjörvi used Waldorf Microwave XT synthesizer for all tracks except Carbon. The songs’ names were chosen randomly. Some of them are just working titles, others are more descriptive. The exception is Subient III, the only ambient piece of the album. All of ambient productions from Subminimal are named Subient, which comes from mix of two words – SUBminimal and ambIENT.

Sinian coverSinian sounds really great, clean and juicy. It’s a big advantage of this album, it’s full of low bass tones and wide soundscapes. Subminimal seems to be a master when it comes to bringing gently on new patterns for a track. Every layer is so clear and essential and every upcoming sequence expands the song in a subtle way. Apart from synthetic sounds Subminimal uses samples – voices or vocalizations. That gives the tracks the subject and character. Just listen to an amazing title-track Sinian! But everything is handled so tastefully, modestly with a sense of proportion. Subtle and minimal (Subminimal?). The album ends with the alternative version of Enum. This track was remixed by Muted, well-known Icelandic artist that lives in the eastern part of Iceland. Subminimal says that Muted brought something great to this track and it just had to be included on the album.

The album comes with the cover that definitely needs your attention. I just had to ask Subminimal about the author of the cover art and I wasn’t surprised that it’s his picture. He took the photo in Höfn í Hornafirði, a small town in the east of Iceland where his wife grew up. They have lived there for almost a year and this is the place where he finished his first EP. I assure you that this photo brings out perfectly the character of Subminimal album. It fires up imagination and evokes misty images of endless spaces, pure and not troubled by anything.

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