Originally printed in Now Then Magazine Issue 81 from December 14
Delicate electronica, laced with a tingling anticipation, Xen is an album of short, snappy and beautiful moments. The experience throws us directly into the storm with the spicy, pretty but harsh ‘Now You Know’. Like brightly coloured clothes, the opener is set to impress and extrovertly introduces the feel of what is inside.
Excitingly moody leaps from pulsing melodic rhythms to sheer banging noise really make this album something to explore. Because of its choppy nature, it’s difficult to memorise and become familiar with, but I like this. Albums can become overheard and this one doesn't take that risk. The creative palette on offer is one of a true composer.
Riffs that sound like a dreamy Vangelis broken down with modern loop scoring help something that began way back in the 20th century extend from its roots, split in the trunk and branch out into a lush organism. Each piece of musical time is used to its potential, and missing beats and purposeful mistiming launch the listener into a realm of drama. Lyrics need not apply.
Aquamarine scenes of underwater orchestras come to mind as the tranquil and meandering ‘Failed’ creates a pause in the frantic energy and drive. Swelling from this point, melody takes a forward seat. Movements of nicely mixed space-age keys glide across the surface of beats in ‘Thievery’, the track which accompanies a sensual and evocative video as the first single. An element of childish stealth and secrets captivates the mood of Xen - a passion for exotic flow and drama, a sprinkle of heat, but most of all a solid understanding of what makes every second tick.
Rowan Blair Colver