Bass Clef - Reeling Skullways (Punch Drunk, 30 April)
Shallowrave likes Bass Clef - watching him rise over the past few years, we've been in attendance at some wickedly screwy live sets in the Subby and in Stereo and repped his EP's as best we can. So a new full length on the excellent Punch Drunk is very welcome, and sees 'Clef unveiling a totally different style to his traditionally freeform dub/noise/IDM blend. Taking his cues from the wonkier moments of Chi-town and Detroit, Reeling Skullways is nine tracks of house twice-removed; a roiling mix of analogue modulation, swung four-to-the-floor rhythms and epic cosmic riffs. Whilst A Smile Is A Curve That Straightens Most Things, Hackney Centralist and Cumbers' early works are strongly carnivalesque, with trombone riffs and sampled MC lines, Reeling Skullways focusses more on the delicious quirks of analogue kit, and draws heavily from Model 500's space-age feel. Equally, the likes of Hackney-Chicago-Jupiter and Suddenly Alone Together show a far more focussed side to Cumbers, being edited and arranged into more coherent dancefloor numbers than the deliciously erratic Clapton Deep or Promises. Most striking is Embrace Disaster, where the warm analogue heart, delicate synth strings and conga percussion come together to create something that sounds like a beefed up Moroder classic.
Whilst Reeling Skullways first gives the impression of being some strange new beast, it's possible to hear elements of Cumbers' past experiments across the album, from the echochamber and delay work on Stenaline Metranil Solar Flare, to the EkoClef-esque industrial grind on the opening and closing beatless segments. It's a singularly bold step forward however, and opens up many new possibilities for Bass Clef.