With much of the fickle Internet proclaiming that the drone bubble has officially burst, one-time leader in the genre Digitalis has made the smart move of branching out. With recent releases veering off into dub, world noise and archival synth work, the taste-making experimental label is proving it’s anything but a one-trick pony. Ricardo Donoso’s Assimilating the Shadow doesn’t make a clean break from the imprint’s old aesthetic, but pushes its boundaries even further.
Following up last year’s Progress Chance, Donoso’s latest for Digitalis comes in at a hefty 66 minutes, sprawled across 10 tracks and four sides of wax. Shadow, however, isn’t just epic in size, but in scope as well.
Inspired by Jungian theory, the album brings some serious next-level downtempo — weaving deep house, techno and club influences with vintage trance arpeggios and ’80s horror synths. In fact, Shadow comes with a strong John Carpenter vibe, especially bringing to mind the eerie, atmospheric synth work of the classic Escape from New York score.
However, Carpenter was hardly ever this complex, as drum-free rhythmic patterns are layered, multiplied and tied together in some seriously intricate yet minimal structures. Despite the technical overtone, Donoso also brings some real emotion to his compositions, with the towering tracks offering some real stick-with-you payoffs.
Intellectually stirring and heady as hell, Donoso has cast one serious shadow.