- Though this is his first proper release as μ-Ziq in over half a decade, Planet Mu head Mike Paradinas' comeback happened earlier in the year with Heterotic's Love And Devotion album. A collaboration with his wife, the project is marked by its sunny disposition. That chipper sheen carries over to XTEP, which abandons the breakcore fury of his earlier work in favour of clear-headed songwriting.
Indeed, Paradinas seems to prefer a bright and trebly sound these days, a characteristic borrowed from synth-heavy '80s pop. He's not trying to make pop music, though, instead just aping its feel—see "Pulsar," which brightens up a claustrophobic bassline with vivid filaments of melody. Opener "XT" might just be the cheeriest thing he's ever released, the spring in its step augmented by Balearic guitars and playful synth loops. It might not be his most groundbreaking music, but it's difficult not to jibe with the peaceful feeling it exudes.
Paradinas also hasn't forgotten his darker side. "Monj2" squares the antsy percussion of yore with the filmic scale of M83, epic and anxious at the same time. Meanwhile, something melancholic lurks amongst the downcast bassline and gentle pianos of "New Bimple." Pianos, in fact, are an important part of Paradinas' new sound, defining the EP's most surprising track. The brief "Ritm" centers around a sample that might as well have been ripped from an old Bruce Hornsby tape. It's a little cheesy, and almost beguiling in its straightforwardness—but if Paradinas has been anything over the years it's confounding.
05. New Bimple