Tony Young’s work as Autoclav1.1 has always occupied a nice area between classic IDM and technoid sounds, defined by the use of melody and sound design to accompany the theme of the release. While there doesn’t seem to be an overriding concept for new LP Nothing Outside as with some recent releases from project mastermind Tony Young, the mood and timbre of the record is a reflective one, spritely and sombre by turns.
One of Young’s great trademarks as a producer is in the use of nice naturalistic sounds and contrasting them with synthetic ones. There’s a great deal of piano on the record, deployed to excellent effect on opener “C17H19N3” and “Weeds Push Through” where it provides simple, easily graspable melodies against busier arrangements of pads synth bass and drums. Less obviously Young uses some organic electric bass and drum sounds on “Locked Down” and “A Bed in Each Window”; the former taking on a peppy and upbeat cast, the latter delving into dub, especially in its rhythm and flowing reverbs.
Those kinds of dichotomies of sound are more broadly explored in the emotional range of the record. While there are both lively and muted numbers (“Stare” and closer “Everything Inside” respectively), most of the tracks feature a shifting sense of character. See how “Floor to Ceiling” shoots its forlorn arrangement of synths and keys with drums that work exactly opposite to them, dragging the track up from forlorn to a more melancholic but energetic place. “Hiraeth” pulls a nice switch up by starting with a curious, questioning bit of synth programming that is quickly answered by broad swathes of tranquil synths, replete with minor notes of anxiety and foreboding. It’s a nice bit of complexity that allows the songs some additional intricacy between the specifics of their programming.
Like many Autoclav1.1 records Nothing Outside is very reliant on the listener to engage with it, often in ways that require dedication and focus. There’s no guarantee that the average punter will ever spend the time with the LP that reveals its many layers: to casual listeners it’ll always play as a nice, somewhat pretty instrumental record from the lite technoid school. As with so many of Young’s releases, active listening and involvement with the album will uncover further rewards.