Random Touch: Tributary
  • Production
  • Composition
  • Musicianship
  • Freshness
  • Drives Family Members Insane

Random Touch’s album Tributary comes across as being an ultimate exercise in sound. Just sit down, put this album on and crank it, and you will literally feel like you are drowning in sonic waves which mercilessly beat down on you. It’s a difficult sensation to confront. I stopped listening to this with my wife around very quickly because it drove her crazy. Don’t expect catchy melodies or choruses. Tributary is an experience that requires patience and a small dose of insanity. It’s not necessarily an album that you will put on for repeated frequent listening, but it’s an experience that will no doubt be enlightening.

At its heart, I would describe Random Touch as an avant-garde expression of sound. The very essence of Tributary seems to be to push sound in the most extreme of directions, ignoring what could be seen as a clear melodic direction. At times the music is quite brutal. Take “Nod to Dionysus, for instance, whose synths include sounds of ripping static. On the other hand, there are moments of atmospheric ambience where you seem to float around in the middle of nowhere. On a more clearly “musical” side, tracks like “Gaining Orbit” show interesting phrasing and adept skill in employing the use of silence as an instrument. The breaks between arpeggiator riffs are ultra effective, and the well placed rests give a strong sense of musicality. Scattered throughout are even moments with a jam-band type feel, laying down nice beats but never forgetting that the music is all about avant-garde musings.

In terms of instruments, you hear a little bit of everything, although most of the focus seems to be on the drums, synths, and guitars. However, you never know what shape these will take. From violent 20th century piano sections to little tinkling bells and thick, ambient, threatening ‘bubbling’ patches, the sonic experience of the band is quite unique. Furthermore, Random Touch capitalizes on strange noises, including lots of found percussion, through panning techniques that are about as extreme as they come. If you crank this thing, you will literally feel like you are on a rollercoaster or spinning around. Think 2001 A Space Odyssey, you know towards the end when they’re flying through space with all the crazy colors? It’s like that, but the effect is on your ears rather than your eyes. If you get motion sickness easily, I would not recommend this album for you, unless you enjoy listening to music in mono.

In the end, Tributary is a very ambitious album that is a bit difficult to describe. I would say that I enjoyed it very much, but at the same time, even with my extreme fandom of avant-prog bands like Yugen, this album is one that I have to take in small doses. However, as previously stated, the experience is rewarding; I’m sure you’ll find things here that perk your attention or spin your head in cool ways.