In my review of Straight Red’s Forc3d R3boot, I talked about the various dimensions of Paul Owen’s work. The lo-fi set-up, the samples, the contrast between humour and serious messages. As a producer, Owen isn’t afraid to experiment, and the same can be said of MemeBrane’s Rohan Moran.
Like Forc3d R3boot, Moran’s upcoming album, Shriek prompts you to do more than simply listen to it. Both will have you chasing easter eggs. On Shriek, the most obvious example of this comes from “1010011010.” Binary decryption is a Google search away, but I will note that looking this up took me in some delightfully unexpected directions. I certainly wasn’t expecting Futurama to enter into this.
Genre-wise, Moran describes his work as IDM, with glitch and related sub-genres tied into it. As tags go, Intelligent Dance Music is entirely appropriate here.
Moran has some serious chops. He studied composition at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. His education primarily revolved around writing for orchestras, traditional and non-traditional ensembles, choirs and more. But he’s relatively new to electronic music and largely self-taught.
Links between IDM and classical music have been discussed in the past. And this does come across here. “(404) Hope Not Found” has a really interesting melody, and it’s a good indicator of the innovations and intricacies found throughout Shriek. This track carries pure sine tones which jab into your brain. They’re simultaneously deeply jarring, but wonderfully so. The same can be said for the distorted scratches on “Exponentialism.” They’re unlike anything I’ve heard before, and I live for them now.
Quick side note: IDM is a term which carries a lot of baggage with it. I could write an entire article detailing the history and controversial nature of it. To boil it down, many of the earliest artists associated with it (notably Aphex Twin and Kid606) hated the term. They found it patronising and snobbish. I too winced when I saw it on MemeBrane’s Bandcamp page.
But listening to Shriek made me more at ease with it. This album is undoubtedly brilliant, but it isn’t impenetrable. Despite it’s dark, often disorientating tone it’s incredibly engaging and listenable. It stresses the artistic potential of dance music, without excluding you from it.
It’s an ambient experience which respects the listener’s ability to cope with confrontational elements and ideas. But if you are looking for something approaching a floor-filler, then “Factorial” has you covered. It has a faster tempo and a beat which emphasises the “D” in IDM. It also features a strangely blissful synth-guitar line.
I’ve actually been aware of MemeBrane for a while. At least I recognised the name (the #synthfam is very large). I’m actually kicking myself because it’s taken so long for me to actually sit down and listen to Moran’s work. I waited far too long before checking it out. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
Shriek will be released on 26th July 2019.
You can find MemeBrane here: