NinjahBOOKS Reviews | New York City, NY, USA | 08/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With hip-hop/noise combo Dälek, Hsi-Chang Lin, better known as Still, has spent the last six years exploring the more extreme experimental side of hip-hop by injecting noise substances and heavy textures in turn reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine, Faust or early Aphex into the band's already dark ambiences. Lin joined the combo at the end of the nineties, after original members Dälek and Oktopus released a first album, Negros, Necros, Nekros, on Gern Blandsten in 1998. Already, the pair had defined their sonic environment, and the arrival of turntablist Still only added to the post-everything equation.
With Remains, Still leaves for a moment the Dälek frame behind to focus on six uncompromising noisebient compositions close in nature to Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2-era Aphex Twin or the likes of Merzbow or Philip Jeck. Remains is the fruit of two years of intense experimentation collated into just over thirty five minutes. Each track was meticulously prepared prior to be recorded live in the studio. While Remains loosely falls into the ambient category, its scope reaches far beyond the genre. Beginning with a sharp noise construction (Once Confronted), on which Still applies layer after layer of gritty interferences, cracklings and glitches, Lin progressively draws his compositions out of the abrasive zone to build on more gentle soundscapes.
Although extremely dense and oppressive, the six tracks featured here allow for emotions to run through. While soundscapes are assembled, twisted, looped and processed, Lin weaves debris of musical elements through his sonic structures, as to remain in touch with the raw material used. This adds an interesting layer of humanity throughout this album and reveals a hidden depth to his compositions. Remains concludes with the ethereal Blindness (Live), on which wave after wave of orchestral formations erupt from the dense background, introducing the notion of melody for the first time here.
Completing the album are three short super-8 films created by New York-based cinematographer Todd Boebel. Adding somber footage to Blindness, A Dream You Were Alive, Futility and Atrophy respectively, the last two combined in one film, Boebel adds to the grit of the record.
Intriguing and, at times, disturbing, Remains provides an insight into Still's twisted sonic realm, away from that of his usual formation. In some ways more accessible than his work with Dälek, the range explored on this album is vast enough to avoid repetition, yet remains focused all the way through to deliver. This first solo outing is not however an easy record to approach, and requires a bit of distance to reveal all its depth."