Graze – Soft Gamma Repeater
Curves are often discussed in musical trends. Forging on too far ahead of one leaves people scratching their heads and falling behind them risks over familiarity. Conversely, fall behind too much and you can become cool again. Stay still and you can become relevant again. Eventually.
As the sands of time cycle about, often the best thing is to do is nail your colours to the mast, pay equal homage to your influences, mastering the trade and screw the rest. All too often this lack of gamesmanship can leave artists criminally ignored, so it’s good to see artists finally get the attention they deserve.
The likes of Graze (and New Kanada boss Adam Marshall, the better known half of the duo) John Daly, Tobias have been quietly putting out some of the highest quality and least faddy electronic dance music of the past few years, enjoying all too brief moments in the sun when the cycles align.
Marshall even flirted with Crosstown Rebels when his stripped back sound ran parallel with the tail end of minimal in the mid/late 00s. Much of that stripped back, propulsive aesthetic can be found on Soft Gamma Repeater, Marshall’s second album with studio partner Christian Anderson in as many years.
Kicking off the LP with immediate immersion, Circada's Middle Eastern style chanting creates an ethereal atmosphere with stepping beats and than a hint of 90s rave about it, a tilt to 808 State. This sets the tone aptly as much of the album tears similar pages from the washed out rave guide book as many of the progenitors spawned in the wake of Burial. To pigeon hole them in this bracket would be unfair as there are a modicum of influences fizzing around in this 8 track opus.
Despite the many angles each track comes at your from, individually they link together well across the LP. Not forgetting the DJs, there are a couple of club ready bombs that sit comfortable next to many of today's de jour, curve riding techno tracks. In the 3 x LP format, SGR it should be on the receiving end of many a club scuff.
Take Banding, a bouncing euro house with a shimmering, nervy, melancholic energy. Or Gneiss, which sits on a rumbling UK style groove, with an off linear pulse, tripping 4/4 but with lashings of Brit bass.
Last year's self titled outing received deserved critical acclaim and the pair have trumped the difficult second album cliché with a long player that edges the quality threshold just that little bit higher, exploring sonic worlds opened by their debut Graze and digging deeper into a varied sound with a very singular aesthetic of quality.
Epic sultry, detailed, cohesive, Soft Gamma Repeater is the continual striving for musical even personal development that can only be achieved by ignoring the curves, or delicately hurdling then before they swipe away your ankles.
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