Suspending Belief (The Isthmus)

Rich Albertoni on Thursday 05/13/2010

Since forming in 1997, Null Device has bridged production and live instrumentation to show there’s more to electronic music than beats per minute.

The fourth album by this Madison act is mostly a collection of down-tempo house and trance that’s perfect for chilling out. Led by Eric Oehler, he of the self-declared “studio geekery,” the band’s members continue to integrate world music influences, as they did on their 2007 release, Excursions.

The Arabic lyrics sung by Raya Wolfsun on “Blades of Grass” are shrouded in the mystery of tribal beats and synth drones. “Teapot Orbiting” has a strong orchestral flavor. The rising strings are a reminder that Oehler is a classically trained violinist.

The album’s last two songs show that Null Device has a poppier side, too. The steady beats and accessible synth of “Blow My Mind” are the band’s surest path to radio airplay.

I’ve yet to hear a local disc this year that matches the sonic diversity, musical depth and substance of Suspending Belief. It’s one of my early favorites of 2010.