On his debut LP, Temporary Awareness of Passing, Alec Ness delivers a dark eulogy of electronic music that fuses booming UK garage, glassy ambience, and jagged synthwave to a palpable state. It’s a deconstructed club record full of violent beats joined by immersive come-down epilogues–a readymade playlist for those that go out in busy spaces, but still feel alone. Created during a self-imposed confinement over a period of 2018 in his home studio, TAOP is the product of Alec’s eclectic musical influences. The haunted thumps of Burial, siren chords of Vangelis, and breathy melodies of Aphex Twin all echo in the purgatorial space that form TAOP.

A background in punk drumming and hip-hop production gave Ness his sense of rhythm, but the harmonic approach that defines TAOP was forced on him at birth. Due to his shortened fingers, Ness is unable to play conventional chords on a keyboard. Still, chords appear all throughout the project: the beautiful title track hums with metallic harmonies, while “Barrier Theme” recalls futuristic visions of Ghost in the Shell, the legendary anime film that inspired its name. These and other sections were made through an intricate layering process of recording countless unique melodies to form full chord structures. As things came into shape, Alec’s physical handicap became the album’s greatest compositional strength.

TAOP blurs the line between humanity and machinery. Alec’s solo vocals and emotions are on full display on numerous tracks, but they come processed with digital and analog tech. On “Violated Time” we find his voice at its most unvarnished, emerging from under the static and gliding forward with vigorous urgency. “Harbinger” is attacked by arpeggiated synths and distorted drums, crescendoing and then falling back into cold empty space. From the opening burst of “Manifest Death” to the closing snare drum gasp of “Severed,” Temporary Awareness of Passing is an existential experience of hopeful shimmers inside a deep pulsating shadow. If someday we teach machines to feel heartache, their cries could sound a lot like this.

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