The electronica subgenre controversially referred to as IDM (intelligent dance music) has undergone a sea of change since the mid-'90s, when it was clearly dominated by big names such as Aphex Twin and Autechre. Now there's a glut of bedroom producers all desperately trying to make their mark in the realm of dizzyingly complex beats and intricately arranged sound sources, and it's so hard to tell one faceless laptop jockey from another that many listeners have ceased to pay attention altogether.
Pittsburgh native Andy Kozloski, also known as Vorpal, shouldn't have to endure that handicap. One of several area IDM artists to emerge from the shadows of the '90s dress-in-black club culture (let's call this breakaway bunch "post-goths"), his full-length debut on the label run by breakcore/mashup hero Jason Forrest (a.k.a. Donna Summer) is chock full of the skittery labyrinthine beats and chopped-up, time-stretched melodicism followers of this genre crave. But the proceedings never fossilize -- as soon as you find yourself nodding happily to a beat, in comes a Japanese flute and koto to spice things up.
There's a liberal amount of variety inherent in Vorpal's methods. One moment, he deconstructs Erik Satie's "Gymnopedie," a special treat worth several hearings in itself just to catch all of the nuances. Next, he invokes the Latin-flavored, cinematic mystery of an Amon Tobin track on "Pinot Noir Film," or the post-industrial "malfunctioning robots krumping on Pluto" feel of Venetian Snares or Otto Von Schirach on "Slow Motion Evil." For the ADD-addled brain of an IDM fan, this is heaven in a bottle, because it's impossible to get bored.
Vorpal's initial effort shows him to be as playfully inventive as any of his major antecedents on pioneering labels such as Warp and Schematic, yet he's no clone of U-Ziq or Squarepusher either. This CD should occupy a top spot in the year-end lists of many electronic-music aficionados, no doubt scratching their heads and wondering what he'll do next to top it.