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AeTopus — Cup
(Spotted Peccary SPM-4701, 2023, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-11-19

Cup Cover art

Bryan Tewell Hughes, a.k.a. AeTopus, is a Bellingham, Washington based composer, musician, and multi-media artist who has long garnered praise at Exposé for his earlier, independent releases that deftly combine electronics with elements of world music. With his latest album, Cup, he has joined the Spotted Peccary stable of artists, which seems to be a perfect match for his music. The thirteen tracks at hand encompass a variety of identities, using synthesizers, sequencers, percussion (both acoustic and electronic), and other instruments to create soundtracks that reflect the beauty and celebrate the exploration of the natural world all around us. Hughes plays all of the instrumentation himself, save the percussion on three tracks played by Mike Bajuk. Each piece builds slowly, generally with a floating ambience setting the stage for gentle, dreamy gossamer textures composed of sequenced electronics, sometimes supported by pulsating rhythmic structures that build slowly, showering spectral colors in all directions, offering threads of expression and beauty in relaxed immersive atmospheres. Most of the cuts clock in and out in a four-to-five minute timeframe, when sometimes it might be preferable for them to go on a little longer and develop further, but make no mistake that nothing here sounds incomplete in any way, calling forth shimmering backdrops and glistening electronic musings that capture the endless beauty of the natural world. Some of the standout tracks include “Sundial” with its powerful melodies and interesting rgythmic structures, or the expansive “They Know” that builds out slowly while engulfing the listener. Opener “Pure” follows a repeating rhythmic figure while building slowly in several stages, while “Beam” gently opens into new calm floating ambient worlds through the midpoint, where sequencers take over and build something altogether new. “Access” moves forward in unusual ways, drawing on what seem like uncommon blasts of industrial sound to eventually find a regular rhythm, while the closer “Softgreen” grows stunningly out of an expressive hypnotic dream state. Every piece on Cup displays a unique character unto itself, yet all are absolutely essential to the complete work.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): AeTopus

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