Back in September, Martin Ahm Nielsen aka Code Elektro released his third album Triads. This twelve track composition is an education in the genre of electronica. Code Elektro’s sound is sonic, with soaring synths, plunging bass rhythms, and an omnipotent tessellating pulse.
All too often, electronic artists are merged into one two-dimensional category. It is artists like Code Elektro — and albums like Triads — that challenge this oversimplification of the genre. And while I lump Code Elektro into the category of electronica, this too is an injustice. While yes, Code Elektro’s sound is predominantly and almost totally electronic, the vibe is eerily reminiscent of the genre’s originators such as Daft Punk. Only the best aspects of ‘80s music permeate the tracks of Triads. But Nielsen goes a few steps further by bringing influences from composers such John Carpenter and Vangelis, and rounding them up with a flavour of Blade Runner and Stranger Things soundtracks.
Apart from music, what really sets Triads apart is the magnificent artwork by designer John Bergin who did some work for Stranger Things and Mr. Robot. The vinyl copy that was delivered to my doorstep is a standard black LP edition which includes two postcards and a download card. (Scroll down to see photos of the whole package)
Triads starts off promisingly with spacey, low-tempo, emotive synth crescendos on the “Rise of the Triads,” invoking the atmosphere that is sustained thoughout the album. Space is a warm and wonderful place in this vision and the persistently slow tempo accentuates the sense of awe.
By the third track, “Night Train” — another optimistic, futuristic space tune — we know what we’re getting and there are no real curveballs over the course of the album. Code Elektro seems to be comfortable and at ease with the controls for this space mission, and a smooth ride and soft landing are assured. The fourth track, “Chinese Dreams,” injects some drama during its intro, what is soon to become, arguably, the most memorable tune on Triads.
With “The Monk” we’re thrust into aggressive percussion and beefy synth basslines with fluttering and sparkling pads. But what makes this track stand out is that it flows wonderfully, going from a hard-hitting attacks to an almost hypnotic cadence.
The album then transitions into “In the Shadows,” an ambient piece pumped up with tension that brings an expectation of the impending chaos, which eventually happens with “The Wilderness.” The track does an amazing job of hooking the listener in but then what follows are wildly different sounding additions that prove that Code Elektro is not only back with amazing music but that he’s matured and grown in his approach, bringing far more to the table than one would have imagined.
The title song is groovy beyond belief; it’s a moment on the album where all other songs gravitate to, although we are still three songs away from the album completion. “Mission Control” slower and more organic number. “Silent Runner,” and “Tokyo Dawn,” close out the record. The atmospheric aspects of the record take center stage on the perfectly named “Silent Runner.” The record closes out strong with “Tokyo Dawn,” whose soaring melodies and ponderous interludes provide closure to the record in a satisfying fashion.
As I stated above, Code Elektro has shown enormous growth and maturity with Triads. There is clearly a mind-boggling amount of thought that has gone into each track, ensuring that each instrument, each tone, each pad, does something interesting. Code Elektro skillfully weaves an album that is intricate and absolutely fascinating.