Flim – Positive Imagination – Album Review
Flim! I mean…I know it wasn’t always the case but once you’ve officially moved just down the road, you’re supposed to say hello to your neighbours! Note the spelling there dear readers – usually I just let Microsoft Word win by spelling things in the American English that doesn’t give me red-lines under every second word I write – BUT…but today, I’ve got a fellow Canadian in review here…not far away from us at all with him based out of Toronto and ourselves in Ottawa…so I figured today we’ll let the red-lines invade my writing as we get to know techno/electro artist Flim.
Like I mentioned…it wasn’t always the case. Flim’s been residing in Canada after a move from about fifteen-years back when he relocated from Thailand after making a massive name for himself in the music-scene there. Soon after he moved he was already integrating his music into the Canadian electro-circuit before long and playing well-known clubs like Circus in Montreal, Circa in Toronto and giant festivals like WEMF and Eclipse. It didn’t take long for Canada to accept the vibrant & versatile sounds that Flim so brilliantly displays in his music.
Flim as a name in general…for some people…potentially holds more meaning. If you’ve been an electro-fan for years and years and years like I have and Flim has clearly been…then you’ve already witnessed the progression from blaring Techno, to bold IDM, to danceable House and eventually the rise of EDM & right up to where we are now where they all share a somewhat equal playing-field in the ears of the listeners out there. This all goes somewhere though – back in my day long before Deadmaus ever put his stupid hat on, you could actually enjoy a healthy, far-fetched but widespread rumour that there was in fact only ONE electro-artist solely responsible for EVERY sound we heard in the entire genre…the artist known as Aphex Twin. Now…of course, that’s not true and never has been – but what a reputation to have out there in the electro-scene…the idea that you’re so masked, anonymous and amazing that people formed conspiracy-theories that he was completely behind electro’s each and every moment.
And perhaps to some degree, that’s true. If you’ve been a fan of Richard D. James and his catalog of music as Aphex Twin as long and intensely as I have been throughout the years…you might actually recall a song that’s called “Flim” appearing on his Come To Daddy EP released in 1997. While it could be considered a strange coincidence…I have no evidence in front of me that suggests Flim isn’t Flim’s real name…but I have the feeling this could truly be one slick Aphex-inspired name-change and subtle reference to the lord of all-things-electro here. I could be wrong…but my ears and what I hear on the new album Positive Imagination by Flim suggest otherwise…especially with how it began. “Stage Of Mind,” the new album’s tune sounded like it had many things in common with the electro-vibes of Aphex Twin’s music from the airy-drum tone-rhythms to the even more subtle-growl of synth that creeps into the background brilliantly here. Accompanied by the talents of Jane Void on vocals – “Stage Of Mind” ends up heading in different directions quickly as Flim distances himself from further Aphex Twin comparisons by incorporating vocals and less craziness & more space in his compositions. The spread-out sound of “Stage Of Mind” and the stunning clarity in what we hear is completely enticing and interesting to listen to on its own; Void’s vocals become a complete bonus here. Jane delivers a sleek & sultry performance that sinks into the music beautifully, confidently, crisply & clearly – Flim’s record is off to a fantastic, curious and somewhat mysterious beginning, no doubt about it.
Jane Void quickly becomes a regular collaborator & musical co-conspirator with Flim throughout much of the content on Positive Imagination…and together they are definitely a combination of talent that I can completely understand pursuing to find out what they’re capable of. She lends a real, verifiable artistic sound & spirit to the songs she’s a part of – and I think you can hear that on “Magic.” Just like a collaborative-effort between two real artists should be, the two involved have really approached this respectfully and given each other tons of space to shine on this track in the spotlight of their own stunning contributions. Jane sounds like a perfect fit once again…I like the heaviness of the emotion in her delivery, it’s poetic but performed somewhat mechanically in effort to match the robotic-vibes of the electro-music…and I dig that. The music itself…is killer stuff! The beginning rise of “Magic” was an audible treat…and from there, the shifting twists & turns in Flim’s production, editing and assembly keep this song sharply moving along and entirely rubbery in its electro-sound. Smart ideas like having Jane’s voice way-up close and also extremely far away make for a rad-mix in the music & song overall that leaves “Magic” with plenty to offer the ears and words that speak directly to the mind.
Again…in my opinion…Flim’s name would have to be either one major coincidence or one of the smartest & subtle references I’ve come across in electro-music for most appropriate name. I think you can hear the influence immediately in the opening song “Stage Of Mind” – but it’s almost unmistakable on the far-reaching electro-cut called “Radio Go To Hell.” This third tune on the album really brings the audible-oddities into the limelight with a solid mix of unique, textured & layered sounds that are 100% intoxicating to the ears and likely to put your entire world askew for a moment or two. Like musical vertigo, “Radio Go To Hell” shifts its gravity around its atmosphere and bounces playfully & professionally along while it delivers one of the most satisfying grooves & highlights early on in the record. Incorporating videogame-style sounds into the mix and absolutely jaw-dropping ambient & haunting atmosphere into the background – “Radio Go To Hell” really moves and seriously entertains.
LISTEN to that bass-line he works with on “Psychological Love” though! Talk about creating the impact! Easily one of the most impressive tunes in the overall set – Flim raises the stakes and takes the album to the next-level with the skills and sound on display on “Psychological Love.” The way this guy creates an electro-rhythm & groove is seriously insightful, smart and well-executed every time – but it’s songs like “Psychological Love” that really drive those points home. Songs like this are extremely captivating through their consistent beat and constant flow of atmospheric-elements entering and withdrawing from the music as it moves along. Straight-up, there’s not a single moment of “Psychological Love” that doesn’t come across as completely brilliant – for me, this is as good as it gets in the electro-genres and I could easily listen to this tune over and over and over again. The dynamic structure and chilled-out nature of the beat, combined with the stunning elements & sounds that enter the mix only to depart and have something else just as incredible become a part of the music – what’s NOT to like about “Psychological Love?” I’d be inclined to put this cut right in there with some of the absolute best I’ve heard in electro over the past five years throughout the independent or mainstream scenes.
Heading into more stability in sound through the Deep-House track “Imagination” – you can’t help but immediately get into the hypnotic & repetitive sounds that make-up the core of this track. Being much more House-inclined overall…”Imagination” might be a bit on the long-side for some, but it’ll be perfect for real fans of the genres ability to really work-in a setting and sound that’s smart enough & strong enough to last for its entire six-minutes. The variations in the layers overtop exist and thrive still but tend to stay longer & the mix and hang-on through their repetitions; for myself personally, I wanted a bit more change-ups on this particular tune, but that’s also why I was a much bigger fan of IDM-electro than I was of any of the other sub-genres and genres within electro-music overall. Not anything I’d hold against Flim here…I think he’s done another solid job of creating an atmosphere that really pulls people blissfully away from their own world and right into the music on “Imagination.”
“April Summer” has the return of Jane Void and her atmospheric vocals back into the mix. Although I wasn’t instantly-sold on this cut as I had been with the others I heard so far – once the main vocal-rhythms from Jane kicked-in after the first-minute rolled by things started to move in the right direction. That being said…I think those main verses came out a bit too bright in the mix and tend to dominate the sound of what we hear a bit too much as a result. They’re cleverly sunken into the mix in every other moment in the song…I don’t think they’re up so much that it misses the mark, the idea still comes across; I just think a couple notches of volume down in those moments will lead to a potential increase in the impact of the music overall. I also think that were it not for Jane’s vocal rhythms in this one…”April Summer” would have certainly come out sounding a bit too straight-ahead and potentially ordinary in comparison to the rest of what we’ve heard so far…and in that sense, I think she really saves this song through the uniqueness she brings to the vocals. She tends to bring these electro-songs from Flim to an even more artistic place and I dig that…strong collaborative effort and ideas between these two.
Some of the best parts and structure in sound come through “7th Heaven,” which makes use of all-kinds of wild & dynamic elements in the mix to its advantage. A longer track that again pushes Flim closer to the Deep-House side of music, I still felt like there was enough variation and uniqueness here to pull in people outside of the genre’s infamously-repetitive ways and right into this one. The backing rhythm is a storming piece of electro that really creates a fantastic and edgy energy to listen to…and really at the heart of it all, though that’s what we consistently hear in the mainline of this tune, it’s 100% all about the other electro-elements scattered over-top of the groove on “7th Heaven.” Flim plays this one really smart and never overplays this song or any one of its contributing factors when it comes to the additional effects & sounds he’s laced overtop of the main rhythm, and as a result, “7th Heaven” entertains brilliantly at every moment. Some of these sounds he’s found and placed perfectly into the mix are truly exquisite and extraordinary to listen to – “7th Heaven” has a wild, untamed imagination and large-doses of audio-creativity that go down smoothly and accessibly the entire way through.
Taking on a more mechanical, factory-driven & robotic nature to the sound of “Tomorrow No More” featuring Jane Void, Flim keeps the energy pumping through the music and the sounds bumping out of the lefts & rights smartly. Great beat & hypnotic-groove on this one…definitely could have been an equally strong tune as an instrumental I think…I felt like I liked the ideas from Jane more in the previous tracks but still welcomed her vocals in this tune as they came up. She cleverly works them in through rhythm and tone like an added instrument into the mix…and in that sense, they fit; just not entirely sure they were as required on this one as they had been in tunes we’ve heard up to this point so far. Hard to call that for sure…we can only hear it with Jane in the mix so it’s hard to imagine it without her completely…”Tomorrow No More” is a good tune in the sense that it’s as well-played, produced & performed as any of the others on the record. The quality in that sense, never drops…but I’d put an argument out there that “Tomorrow No More” could have used a bit more…something! I’m not the music-guy here…that’s Flim’s job…I suppose I felt by comparison to many of the tunes onn Positive Imagination that “Tomorrow No More” left me wanting a bit more somehow, best way I can put it.
Redemption comes for these two right at the end of the album. The brilliantly-paced sound of “Tiger” and the beautiful grace that Jane Void’s poetic & artistic vocals add to this song completely works. Personally, I thought this track was one of the smartest I’ve heard on the entire record and a wicked note to end the experience on – “Tiger” moves like no other on this album. Wonderfully vibrant through its dynamic mix and clever choices in sounds – Jane glides sleekly through the electro-rhythm with a fragile-but confident, angelic & dreamy style to her vocals that completely hits the mark. On “Tiger” it wasn’t even always about what she sings as it was when she chose to sing and when those vocals pop-up…like she kept us guessing as to which bars she’d show up on – and the effect of that on us as listeners felt like that every time she showed up, she was a truly captivating element in the song. A final highlight in structure and sound from Flim…”Tiger” finished Positive Imagination with the exact intentions & ambitions within the album’s actual title and ended this record with memorable impact.
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