The Tone of Number 5 is the pseudonym of electronic producer Paul Rice. ‘NO SLE.EP’ is his most recent release on YRZ Recordings who have released a number of other similar electronic artists work since February through their bandcamp. Link: http://yrzrecordings.bandcamp.com/
I see NO SLE.EP as a showcase of what The Tone of Number 5 can do and is interested in doing and I think this is a better attitude to have for the EP because it does a lot in a short space.
NO SLE.EP draws in a wide range of styles and ideas including (but not limited to) drone, minimal techno, dub and glitch. It makes NO SLE.EP quite a journey. The first track ‘From Air’ is a strong start opening with dissonant, otherworldly vocal harmonies that slowly develop into a beautifully textured drone. I like Rice’s attention to drones across this EP in fact, they never are too long but are interesting and generate a reflective depth to his work. I think there are also some found sounds in ‘From Air’ that enter the more glitched parts of the track.
The second track ‘Lock’ expands on Rice’s glitch work finding a place in the percussive track which jumps around and anchors the noisy texture. This track features some more common-place sawing synths but these are used sparingly – earlier this year Recondite did a similar project using acid house sounds to produce a brilliant ambient album – and Rice is equally accomplished here. On top of the percussion and textures Rice drops in some bright notes that lift the whole track shifting it away from becoming too moody. The percussion in this song does suffer a little bit though from the ambient sounds on this track that threaten to drown the rest of the features out at times.
‘No Sleep’ is the most atmospheric track on the EP filled with cold, expansive sounds. Again Rice’s knowledge and ability with drone comes to the forefront but he manages to combine this with some really nice, tight beats featuring a subtle hand clap. This is an eerie track which is exacerbated by the gradual introduction of violin and cello strings which in turn brings in heavy bass and synths gradually panning into loops of waves of melodies and sounds. As with the first track, ‘No Sleep’ is successful for its introduction of a variety of movements within the track, it constantly progresses.
The final two tracks ‘You Circle’ and ‘Falling in’ are a long way from the first track of the EP. ‘You Circle’ has these ethereal harmony and mid frequency drum hits that make it far more relaxed than previous tracks and this slowly morphs into piano sounds and recognisably trip-hop (as much as I dislike that label) beats. ‘Falling in’ is the weakest song on the NO SLE.EP because it just feels like an outro and it doesn’t feel like a song in its own right which is disappointing given how interesting the previous tracks were.
This is an adventurous EP but it needs to commit to some sounds more than others imho. The vocal harmonies that feature on half of the tracks detract from the moody, dub styles that evoke cold images of brutalist architecture. The beats and percussive parts are strong whenever they feature and I would like to hear more of them with the interesting sounds and textures Rice likes to work with. The first three tracks appealed to me the most but that’s subjectivity at work.
It is pay what you like on bandcamp, have a listen. I’m looking forward to hearing more of this guy’s work.