Rails To Tomorrow – Present Paradox (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Words paint pictures. You hear words like Dance or terms such as EDM and your mind conjures images of packed clubland dance floors moving to euphoric and bombastic electronica. Hear the word ambient and you think of drifting minimalism and gossamer light sonic threads. Yet Present Paradox manages to blend both of these mutually exclusive styles together to create music which will appeal to both communities but which also moves beyond the expectations of either camp.

Perhaps it is the understated dance beats which help animate the more ambient sounds. Perhaps it is the gentle delicacy and space which bends and blends those dance grooves into more subtle and supple beasts. The important thing is that they do combine these into music which is uniquely their own.

Rails To Tomorrow is a 6-track offering of this neat middle ground that they inhabit. Opening salvo, Alarm Clock is a glitchy, futuristic beat dressed up in wafer-thin sonic textures, each light and opaque on their own but when layered upon each other create soft and soulful sounds that seem to sit between the human and the digital experience. 

Leave The Old House follows what many would recognise as more conventional music lines, a more consistent form, slightly urgent, building anticipation towards a sonic pay-off, a resolution which, interestingly, doesn’t ever come, the song opting to drift off into the night rather than deliver any dynamic lift or obvious reward. A reminder that it isn’t a musicians job to give the audience what they are expecting, that is the last thing you should do… it’s your music after all, surprise them, shock them, subvert their expectations, leave them hungry for this new sonic taste.

When, When does follow that slow-burning groove towards the pay-off that you might have been waiting for, building in intensity before falling into silence only to begin again, this time with a more epically ambient vibe…if you can even have such a thing. The title track is melancholic and intimate and Open Up This Door is a wash of shimmering synth and ticking beats, bubbling synths and half-buried vocals.

Present Paradox is a band which neatly straddles two extreme worlds, one of quietness and contemplation and another of groove and euphoria. But they bridge them seamlessly, using one to temper the other and in so doing create a fascinating and singular sound. All we need to do know is find a name for it!

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