shulman :: random thoughts
For their third release, the duo known as Shulman flipped through the growing pile of remixes and random (hence the title) tracks sitting around their studio. Stylistically these nine songs are not dissimilar; while they range in rhythm and tone, this Israel-based project has created a remarkably clean and familiar sound. Most impressive has been their high level of production, hi-fi definition in samples and triggers and the precision of drum pads and percussive hits. While part of their mission plan is to find an organic electronic sound, they do sometimes lean too heavy toward the tech; still, within all this material is enough ambiance and grace to signify the obvious passion they place inside.
"Midnight Bloom," a collaboration with labelmate Bluetech, is a perfect example of their intention in full force. There is a heady lean toward syncopated metal, a glossy sheen in the percussive samples riding underneath the cherubic synth and vocal hits. The setting - a sort of futuristic technological foundation embedded within very tranquil, seeking harmonies - creates a warm emotional response. This trick is also apparent on their phenomenal remix of Turkish ney/zurna player Omar Faruk Tekbilek. "Ya Bouy" opens with the familiar zurna blaring atop a strong midtempo rhythm. The middle section, however, is fueled by an exceptional tribal percussive breakdown riding the lines between infuriated fingers on animal hide and those on mouse pad. Tekbilek is brought back in for the closing segment, a fitting tribute rendered in nu-time.
Most of the record stays on the downtempo while "Spaced Out," a tinkering of France's Entheogenic gets a drum 'n bass treatment and "Ra He'Ya," a reworking of Israel's Sub6 is also on the up (with a rather muddy take on Michele Adamson's vocals, thrusting it too far into the digital realm). Shulman proves best when sticking to the ambient; a track like the jazz-infused "Look Honey It's The Vitties!" hangs dangerously close to Nuevo-new-age and ends up sounding confused. When they stick to lighter tones, as on the closing "I Dive" and "Staring at the Abyss," their true musical direction unfolds.