Artificial music will probably always be a bit polarizing to interpret when compared to the more traditional means of performance art; the stodgiest of musical purists may lambast the use of computer-generated sounds and sampling as a mask for authentic ability. In doing this, however, the crux of artificial composition is glazed over. Electronic music stresses the construction of sound through technological innovation, and if this maxim is to be considered parallel to the indefinite expansion of technology, it can be construed that electronic music is constantly evolving in scope and execution. From this constant evolution spawns a sense of infinite wonder, akin to exploring the vastness of space. Much of trip-hop and electronic music’s appeal to me is its ability to inundate my senses with its digital waves in a manner that is enigmatic like the unknown frontier, but ultimately comforting. With the release of this collection of tracks, elusive Bostonian Dr. Quandary has certainly done that.
“Wayfarers” is ultimately a collection of rarities, and clocks in at a very digestible 25 minutes in length. There is more than enough material present to be thoroughly satisfied, however. These eight compositions include a veritable assortment of influences: “Feijao”, “Oneiric Field Mandala”, and “Varanasi” are noticeably influenced by traditional Hindi music for example, while tracks like “Branches & Bells” and “Bedouin Drums” delve more into psychedelic krautrock similar to a band like Tortoise. These eclectic influences shimmer like sunlight off of a lake when superimposed over Dr. Quandary’s nuanced trip-hop beats.
While the compositions here are predominantly instrumental, vocal samples appear sporadically and tastefully. The looped vocal melody on album highlight “Feijao” becomes rather hypnotic as undulates contrarily with the harp glissandos. “First Law of Harmonics” complements a simple piano loop with thought-inducing spoken-word samples that will certainly draw comparisons to DJ Shadow’s “Endtroducing.” The sheer nuance Dr. Quandary utilizes in his production, however, transcends derivation and creates a product that is memorable and unique in itself.
“Wayfarers” is an incredibly satisfying trip-hop release. I could castigate its short run-time, but as a collection of rarities, it is wholly satisfying and, perhaps mysteriously, altogether very cohesive and complete. In keeping with electronic music’s curiousness Dr. Quandary doesn’t have an awful lot of information available on any of his webpages. Artistic reasoning aside, this anonymity only adds to the thematic elements of wonder present in his music. Electronic music is at its best at its most esoteric and otherworldly, and “Wayfarers” is all of that seal-packed in cellophane.