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4 / 5
Sailing off the Grid (Music Man Records)
To comprehend Petar Dundov’s new record one must first discover the deeper meaning and inner context behind his work. Born and raised in Croatia, living in the heart of the Adriatic paradise, Dundov spends his free time captaining his boat between the idyllic islands littered across the country’s seaboard. It’s no surprise then that Sailing off the Grid pays reference to his favourite pastime; the album cover depicting a gallant pinnace charging through a barrage of ocean breakers, whilst the record itself sounds like a vast symphonic sea, an electronic current of synth lines washing against the cool Croatian shore.
Dundov is often referred to as a techno artist, although his work only technically falls into this category. His productions take on a strikingly melodic approach, with floating ethereal, trance-like idiosyncrasies. Whereas his singles have been more rigid, tailoring to a larger dance floor market, his long players have taken a more ambient, progressive inclination, bringing polyphonic colour and vibrance to his work. His previous outings Escapements and Ideas from the Pond were comparatively more somber with largely more obtuse sounding edges. The latter, Ideas from the Pond, began touching upon Dundov’s current sweeping ambient sound, maintaining a certain urban-aura spanning across it’s 13 tracks.
Sur La Mer Avec Mon Ami, is as transparent a reference to sailing and the freedom it entails as you will ever get. There are indisputable references to Vangelis, as the drifting notes, resonate against a light, percussive beat, brushing against the melody, as if it were the waves caressing the sides of Dundov’s boat; the beat itself falling in and out of time, highlighting the natural, imperfect frequency of nature.
There are other moments of nautical beauty, title track Sailing off the Grid comes awash with arpeggiated synthesizers and exasperated chords that float off into the distance. Cradle is a beatless, electronic arrangement built around a straightforward, replicating note progression. Spheres has a similar build, changing keys, progressing in dynamics, journeying up and down in strength like an ocean squall; it’s charm lying simply in it’s melody.
The press release warns you that this is a record one must listen to in its entirety. It’s not something you can dissect or pick highlights out of; it is a thematic record that depicts notions of calmness and tranquility.
Sailing off the Grid finds Dundov at his best. Like the Adriatic, the record is calm and beautiful giving Dundov the ability to charter his boat to any direction of his choice, providing him with the ultimate freedom to compose finely tuned melodies, alter the concepts of electronic music and allow him to musically sail off the grid.