Welcome to 2020k’s second official edition of Infrasound: A word used to describe frequencies underneath the human hearing range. In this way, we hope to bring under the radar, unsigned, and independent music to your attention to get word out about those works of art that are needed to be heard among a larger group of people.
Listening to Means Business by Boreal Network is like opening up an instructional VHS on how to work a retail job and finding that halfway through the video someone has tampered with it to expose the corporation and your job for the corrupted and degrading business it is. It articulates the narrative in an extremely sophisticated and effortless manner and is in the running to become one of 2020k’s best albums of 2011.
Means Business, released September 12th, 2011 is the work of Nicole Johnson based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota and is a nine song collection of instrumental electronic concept music based upon the corporate art aesthetic that demonstrates both the positive and negative outlooks, using mainly warm 80’s sounding synthesizers and Boards of Canada influenced warped speech effects.
The album’s opener, “Corporate Training Video” is one of two songs that successfully utilize speech and is one of the more beat driven numbers that demonstrates how well the percussion is mixed through the entire record. There’s never a time throughout Means Business where it feels like these parts of the tracks are over-compressed, but instead the treatment offered to the rhythmic sections of the tracks help direct more focus and drive to the song. Every kick drum has a nice punch to boom factor, every snare drum contains a peak force, and the supported percussive elements appear through lightly distorted and occasionally phased and filtered sounding hi-hats and other off-beat rhythmic electronic elements.
In the same vein, “Corporate Training Job” also has the best mixed track all around with balance in frequencies between the different instrumentation and has a great composition that smartly has one synth playing eighth notes, one playing sixteenth notes, and one lead synth-pad playing a beautiful melody of mostly whole notes that has the bass following it and is the glue that brings together all of the rhythmic sounds featured within it.
Problems arise through some of the records tracks through means of distortion. Though unclear if it’s all purposefully left into the tracks to demonstrate the deterioration of the surface level optimism that corporations often give the impression of, it’s somewhat distracting on tracks like “Benzene Alert” where frequencies seem to clash with each other from time to time and cause problems with distortion at some of the attack of the synths.
Not to worry though, it’s tracks like one of the more emotional and album defining “Sulfide Impact Statement” that lift Means Business up again and create a cohesive and flowing track based off of synthesizers, light percussion, and heavy bass sound. It’s one of the more sparse tracks as far as composition and structure goes but everything works so beautifully with one another melodic and rhythmically that even though there is a distortion effect toward the middle of the track it seems to fit right in amongst the hope filled track and offer a darker feeling of defeat within it.
Means Business & Boreal Network both mean some serious business so what the hell are you waiting for? Your way-too-short of a lunch break ended five minutes ago and the boss (that’d be me) is telling you to head over to the Creative Commons based Retronym website and download this album FOR FREE or you are fired. Eleven albums are featured on Boreal Network’s official website and if they’re all as well put together and aurally pleasing as Means Business then it looks like we’ve got some catching up to do.
Album Rating: 4.5/5
Download the album for free [Retronym]