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LI 015CD LI 015CD

2009 release. After five albums for Thomas Brinkmann's max.ernst label, Tbilisi, Georgia-based producer Natalie Tusia Beridze aka TBA comes aboard Laboratory Instinct with Pending. It's her first album since 2007's Size and Tears (MAXE 014CD), and between its tentative melodies and its astonishingly rich tones, it might be her most emotionally-focused yet. But the record's cohesive feel doesn't mean that she has tempered her ambitions. Quite the opposite: Pending runs a gamut of moods and styles, borrowing bits and pieces from ambient, hip-hop, house, techno and pop. Where so much electronic music pledges itself to a lone technology or a single beat structure, Beridze only takes what she needs from swollen synthesizer patches, jittery drum programming, sampled pianos, even the occasional breakbeat. Beridze's own voice, often stretched like gauze through an array of reverb, lends an extra layer of warmth. "To 'Hell Risers'" opens the album like a calm intake of breath, with acoustic samples pulsing beneath a purring spray of syllables. "Don't Know Why" feels like Underworld on helium, or the Postal Service wearing anti-gravity boots: it's classic electro-pop, and it soars. On "Good Night Tokyo," notes flicker like a time-lapse film of a night-time skyline, but slowly decaying chords and drifting vocals impart a sense of stillness that only deepens with the beatless "X.It (Endo)," three minutes of keys and strings. The classically-inspired sketches "Ice Turns End" and "Isole" suggest excerpts from film scores, which makes sense, given Beridze's own filmmaking work and her multimedia activities with the Goslab collective. One of the album's most powerful tracks, "Cuts vs. Ignorance" fuses Detroit techno's keening synths to stuttery, hip-hop-influenced beats. "Everything Pushes Me Further Away" is even heavier, with an unrelenting spray of metallic scraps abrading a dark, velvety backdrop. Occasionally, Beridze will come clean with relatively straightforward pop songs, but always rendered in her unusually intimate, voices-in-your-head style. At the album's center, there's "Come To Kiss Me," a nine-minute masterpiece of fluttering chords, indebted to Steve Reich and Terry Riley's pulse minimalism. It's a gorgeous, expanding mass, a slow-motion explosion of color as dizzying as its title promises.