Agor is the stirring and ethereal debut album from Koreless
It’s strange to think that Agor is Koreless’s first album. In the ten years since his debut single 4D, the Welsh producer has carved a path for himself which has garnered him recognition as one of electronic music’s foremost innovators. Arriving at the moment the bombastic maximalism of dubstep began to wane, Koreless would propose an alternate evolution for much of the same aesthetic notions presented by dubstep. Taking from that genre the fragmented form and syncopated approach, Koreless chose to craft music that felt significantly lighter, more considered and streamlined in its approach. 2013’s Yūgen EP continued this preoccupation with finding weightlessness in club music, until that point presenting Koreless’s most definitive collection and proclamation of his stylistic point of view. This point of view would become more focussed with the ephemerality of TT/LOVE, establishing his technique of stippling breathy vocal samples to create sputtering patterns as his signature. Yet, the years following found the producer grow more distant, lapsing behind the scenes to shape the sounds of pop stars such as Rita Ora and FKA Twigs. While for many this would suggest a sonic shift towards more a pop influenced sound, Agor sees Koreless embracing his signature style more comprehensively than before.
Meaning ‘open’ in Welsh, the music on Agor fully extrapolates on Koreless’s fixation with the spatial dynamics of sound, working through influences from trance, ambient, minimal techno and garage to create ghostly, liminal iterations of dance music. The way Agor accesses the ephemeral appears to be by way of celticity, with much of Koreless’s sonic palette being informed by the mystical quality of his cultural history. The vocal samples that dominate Agor sound like phrases of folk-songs or incantations that are cut and reimagined. In fact, much of Agor feels like an exploration into the quality of the voice itself. The tracks are full of breathy, chant-like sound bits that are shattered, layered and scattered to create textural patterns and at times, percussive rhythms. On Frozen they jitter alongside the hermetic twang of a harpsichord riff and on the stomping Joy Squad they are sequenced into a stuttering psytrance bounce. Stranger evolves a melodic intonation into a cyborg siren song before cutting the vocals into ribbons and rethreading the pieces.
Always at the forefront of Agor is Koreless’s indisputable skill as a sound designer. His innovation stems from the technical prowess he possesses for editing music. The album is dotted with interludes of sorts, short pieces of music that run for no more than two minutes which showcase his affinity for cutting and rearranging samples into patterns and textures, composing entire tracks from a single aria. Most of the music leans towards ambience, quasi-soundscapes that bend around the space they occupy to create kinetic compositions defined by a sense of restraint. There are moments of build that never quite drop, rather oscillate in the space of their liminality. This lends to Agor an ethereality, a meditation on the quality of open space introduced right at its opening with the disparate structure of Yonder recalling slow, languid drops of water in a cavernous void. This approach bleeds into the rest of the album, with elements being given time to bloom to their fullest before evolving into something new or faintly evaporating all together. Beats are used sparingly, but where they do appear they pulse with an earthy energy that bounces off the chasm around them, such is the case with Joy Squad .
Looking back at 4D, the evolution of Koreless from then to this point is clear. The foundations that shape Agor are all evident on that first offering; the sparing, fluttering beat, the choppy and jittering vocals. On this album and after ten years of refinement, they are sweepingly emotive and stirring in their bravado, finding a sense of gravitas like never before.
Download Agor, released via Young, here, and watch the video for Joy Squad directed by Lewis Roberts + Mau Morgó below.