Artist: Donnacha Costello
Album: Together Is The New Alone

Label: Mille Plateaux

Together Is The New Alone
Donnacha Costello approaches music from a minimalistic-techno aesthetic whereby the musical elements, previously constructed, are already in existence before sitting down to create a composition. Each part is introduced or faded up, and, upon gaining some familiarity, added to, built upon, allowed to breathe, then subtracted from and pulled back into the mix until the logical conclusion of silence. Together Is The New Alone goes beyond this simple set of cut and paste instructions and into the realm of post-ambient, contemplative electronic music. The tracks shimmer and swim, click and pop, up and down a bell curve arc and beg the listener to look inward at the essence of their own being. Costello's music benefits from his restraint. The pieces never over-stay their welcome as on "Your New God" where he mixes stretched bell tones with a fat bass progression and clipped white noise rhythms into a meloncholic 21st century electronic ballad. On "And I Got Left Behind", the layers of offbeat rhythm loops propel the piece through a mental matrix of stop and go advances and detours until a flanged pad arises to soften and then dominate the piece. With its electronically "plucked" tones and cool timbre, "Nothing Still Nothing" is delicate, somber and the most open piece on the album. The curiously named "Dry Retch" is a sensually spent ten minutes of floating serenity; the levels of electronic tones carefully cycling over, under and through each other. Costello wanders off into the experimental on "Daydream Belief". The piece is barely audible at normal listening levels and for its duration we sense rather than listen to its sublte atmospheres and ticking pulse. Concluding with the demanding "Always A Part", we are roused from distraction with full melodic motion and energetic beats.

So why would Costello create such engaging, beautiful music only to burden it with sad names and bleak titles which indicate loss, isolation and despair? Often, music does not represent the artist; perhaps on Together Is The New Alone, Donnacha Costello is presenting music with the substance and character he as an individual aspires to one day meet.

- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END   19 December 2002

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