We can hardly believe it's been two decades since house and techno producer Donnacha Costello pivoted into pristine ambient IDM. One of the most unashamedly pretty albums that emerged from the Mille Plateaux stable, 'Together is the New Alone' is a vulnerable, emotional milestone that centers rich, heart-wrenching harmonies adding just a pinch of digital seasoning.
It's hard to go back to so much early-00s IDM - but there are those records that have aged like a fine wine, and are a testament to the artists' skill. 'Together is the New Alone' is one of those better vintages, and 20 years later, with a noticeably excellent re-master from Stephan Mathieu, it sounds just as resonant as it did way back when.
At his most elegiac, Costello creates grandiose yet achingly melancholy atmospheres; 'Awake On The Fifth Floor' coaxes a gentle, microscopic beat thru padded walls of synth; 'Your New God' juxtaposes these electronic elements with almost inaudible string plucks and the suggestion of a beat; 'That Empty Feeling' is gaping and awe-inspiring, emo for a generation just getting acquainted with laptop life.
But it's the album's two-part finale that really sticks in the back of the throat: Costello's crown jewel 'Dry Retch', one of the most tear-inducing ambient symphonies of the era, and the hopeful minimalist breakstep closer 'Always A Part'. Hard to imagine that the euphoric trancebient throb of Border Community etc would have developed in the same way without this crucial leap into the clouds.