Artist: Steiger
Title: Pixelbird
Label: Jukebox In The Sky Records
By: Antonella Sirec | 14 September 2006
  • A: Slacker Mix
  • B: Mix Two

Steiger "Pixelbird"

Out Now on Jukebox In The Sky Records

Since the later part of the '80s, Simon Rogers has been creating music that has been pushing certain artistic and musical boundaries. Whether as an earlier member of The Fall or working under pseudonyms as Lautrec and of course the more well known Slacker with Shem McCauley, his vast experience in dance music lends an air of quiet maturity that can sometimes be lacking with the younger producers of today. As the saying goes, experience counts for something. With the release of 'Pixelbird' under his Steiger alias, his sophisticated understanding of the nuances of dance music is made even more abundant. At the very least, this is a simple yet extremely gratifying musical pleasure.

The Mix 2 version of 'Pixelbird' opens with a simple beat and melody, a very minute synth begins to weave in and out of the tune, at first quietly but then becoming more prominent in sound. As the tune continues, the melody drops slightly in key and a higher chord transition slowly comes in to add another layer to the track. As a subdued bass begins, 'Pixelbird' starts to take on a textured yet uncomplicated feel. Throughout, the tension of the composition builds slightly but quite rightly never explodes into a wall of sound. As the track snakes through chords and the main melody to reach the end, notes seem to fall away until you’re left with a simple harmonic sound. Depending on which varying layer you concentrate on, the track takes on differing qualities that make for an enjoyable listening experience. Steiger's newest release can only be described as beautiful. The minute, almost buzzing quality of the synth gives it a fragile feel but the subtle bass lends an underlying strength to the track. This is a tune that I played over and over and I found it as haunting as the first time I heard it. It's a composition that stays in your mind long after it has finished playing. It's an eloquent track that displays an element of the whimsical as much as it is firmly pragmatic. Music like this is a pleasure to experience.

The Slacker mix reinterprets 'Pixelbird' into dancefloor friendly tune without losing any of its warm or fragile facets. Beginning more on an up-tempo beat, the melody that was quite languid in Mix 2, has also been given an up beat treatment. Still retaining the minute synth, on this remix, it too comes in at the same time and at the same volume but where it was the main hook of the previous version, it now takes on a sound effect position. As a small breakdown is introduced in the early stages, the beat returns on a richer tip with the vibrating bass really hitting home. This is now the wall of sound that wasn’t previously introduced and now controls this version of Steiger's composition. Atmospheric chords can be heard at varying intervals as a melodic chord starts low and creeps into the forefront. The buzzing synth that controlled Mix 2 is down played to emphasise the bass and the added levels of melody. While never overtly climaxing, this version starts to peter off at a gradual rate before finishing with the sound of a single synth. Listening to this is much like listening to a musical rendition of the old cat and mouse game. In Slacker's hands, 'Pixelbird' has been rendered into a micro progressive house tune that is just as infectious and as hypnotic as Mix 2.

This is one of the most genuinely pleasing releases I've had the pleasure to hear in a long time. Steiger's 'Pixelbird' displays an aura of simplicity that actually hides the underlying complexity you only notice on subsequent listens. Irrespective of which version I listened to, both grabbed my attention for differing reasons. Both exhibit a sense of originality without being overly experimental in sound. Whether it's the whimsical nature of Mix 2 that draws your attention or the vibrating bass that gives the Slacker mix a quivering wall of sound, this is one release that's been created to spark interest and feed the listener’s musical perceptions. Common to both is a sense of warmth and a certain need to keep replaying both tunes. A truly satisfying release that continually put a smile on my face and kept me interested regardless of the number of times I played it.

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