Mega City Industry
This new foursome from Alan Myson, a Brighton based artist recording under the moniker Ital Tek, continues along the same trajectory he’s been on for the last several years, particularly his recent Control mini-album for Planet Mu. It’s his second outing for Civil Music after his Hyper Real EP last year. The contrast of fast and slow is again at the core of these tracks, but there is a gravity to these pieces that lends them a certain mystique that might be closer to his Nebula Dance album. ‘Mega City Industry’ arrangement is big and spacious, full of reverberated chimes and pads while his signature patient halfbeat anchors it with a serious poker face. ‘Shinra’ skitters with activity despite its slow halfbeat anchor, with bassline and melody all flitting in sync like the nervous twitching of wings. ‘Swamp Beat’ leans more into dubstep territory with a heavy-handed beat and dubbed out sounds, but his trademark sputtering patterns here sound almost like an inversion of the sounds of Myson’s Gonga 12″ on Planet Mu. The most melodic complement to the title cut, however, is in closer ‘Universal Decay’, a handsome piece of work brimming with bending pads and rolling arps.
Loops Haunt is a project by Scott Douglas Gordon, a Scottish producer. Exits is his first full-length album, released on Bristol’s Black Acre, which builds on the palette of his Ark and Zenith EPs with a more varied set of sounds. Over its numerous tracks, Exits finds Gordon more unpredictable than ever, starting with the improvised prologue of ‘Exits’ and the subsequent freeform sprawl of ‘Trapdoor’ before proceeding into the downtempo dirge of ‘Hollowed’. The latter reminds me of some of the moments of early DJ Shadow and Mo’Wax, but it’s a fleeting comparison. ‘Howl’ is a galloping rock beat paired with a rousing, coarse triplet bassline, splitting the difference between Plaid and Battles. The squiggly acid lines of ‘IIVA’ push it closer to sounds that usually emanate from Rephlex than anything I’ve heard from Loops Haunt before, but it’s an effective track in the middle of the album. It’s a pretty direct contrast to ‘Hex’ which follows, a dreamy track that’s all twinkle and pulse. Elsewhere Gordon touches on chillwave (the clicks and cuts looping of ‘Ellum Tonal’), darker soundtracks (the dark imagery of ‘Tunnelling’), or more tripped out, jazz-tinged excursions (‘Tymadlyb’).
This 2-track release from Chris Clark is a curve-ball after the unusually lush intricacies of his previous double whammy of his Iradelphic album and its follow-up EP Fantasm Planes. Having seen Clark perform late last fall, the title cut is no surprise, with a jerky groove of effects and synths that wanders in circles around a chunky, uptempo rhythm section. It feels like Clark’s oscilloscope visuals, noodly and spazzy and strangely monochromatic compared to his often expansive arrangements on previous releases. And yet its claustrophobic squirm works, shifting and writhing over its thud-thud staggered kick and choo-choo synths that fill in overhead, sounding like a runaway 2D freight train. Despite feeling kindred to the post-dubstep UK bass music sounds of the last few years, there is still something other about Clark’s production that veers it into something more alien. By contrast, ‘Riff Through The Fog’ starts off with startlingly clear melody, a catchy refrain that loops over his otherwise textural and skittering arrangements. It’s definitely the more sedate companion to ‘Superscope’, but it’s indeed a welcome one. It’s so smooth by comparison that it can be tempting to write it off as a B-side, but in reality I think ‘Riff Through The Fog’ is more likely to get repeat listens from me. It’s a great combination of all of the things in which Clark excels: melody, unusual sound design, mix, straddling the dancefloor and a world better suited for headphones.
Christian Löffler follows up his superb A Forest album on his own Ki Records with this equally lush sophomore effort. Young Alaska reprises most of the sounds and styles found on A Forest but does so more elegantly, more concisely. For starters, Young Alaska is only 8 tracks at 42 minutes, as opposed to the last album’s 13-track, 80-minute sprawl, so it feels more approachable by default. But the sounds themselves aren’t so much a departure, really. There’s something quaintly home-spun about Löffler’s arrangements for electronics, often sounding as though he’s sampled household objects and surfaces for his sounds rather than synthesizing them outright or using conventional drum samples. It has this flawed, human sound in common with some of Matthew Herbert‘s late 90s Around the House tracks or some of Glitterbug‘s more pastoral dance music excursions, but Löffler has a distinct style of composition that feels at once familiar and refreshing and easy. The gloomy, smooth progression of many of the tracks here feel somehow interchangeable, all likeable parts of one whole rather than discrete tracks. ‘Roman,’ for instance, has a beautiful melody along with a variety of quiet bedroom sounds, but it still has the form and function of dance music, sounding not unlike the more chilly moments of Trentemøller‘s excellent 2005 album, The Last Resort. It’s a healthy balance of heart and body, elegant but unafraid to break a sweat.
All words by Matthew Mercer of Ear Influxion
Additional editorial by HC