With his debut solo album, Jordan Dalrymple marches into the unknown following the dissolution of his groundbreaking band Subtle. Luckily, the unknown was that group’s terra firma, and he’s perfectly at home in the wilds he pioneers as Antonionian. Taking a cue from his project’s namesake-modernist Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni-Dalrymple reveals a world of dreamlike detachment and depth, colored by spare dialog and impressionistic imagery and presented over a score that ranges from propulsive lo-bit hip-hop to three-dimensional avant-funk.
On the upbeat standout “Into the Night,” Dalrymple teams up with General Elektriks mastermind HervÃ© Salters to pay unexpected tribute to Prince. The track is both unabashedly poppy and arty-a perfect storm of electronic throb, eerie keyboard work, moody piano, falsetto vocals and finger snaps. On either side, songs deal out light and dark to varying degrees: “The Desert” parts one and two sets a foreboding yet cathartic scene; the comely clatter of “My Mind’s Eye” features the quaking wail of Carrie Clough; and the swooning submerged harmonies and aqueous synth flutter is “Vanquished.”
But whether it’s the brightly minimal surge of the Laurie Anderson checking electro track “The Ride” or the lurching, almost disorienting surrealist stomp of closer “Pull True,” Antonionian is bound by Dalrymple’s ear for mercurial melodies and unyielding rhythms. To this end, he employs drums both live and button-punched, guitars both acoustic and electric, and all manner of keyed things. He drops his voice to a whisper, or builds it up into a blackened, choral om. The final result is a highly visual, visceral experience that explores without apology. “I’ve always played on the side of all the unrepentant,” Dalrymple sings on “Fate’s Not Particular.” Amen to that.