- Alex Smoke's follow-up to his R&S debut, Dust, is more in keeping with the unsettling techno of last year's LP as Wraetlic than that EP's breaks-littered clatter. After spending the last couple of years focused on electronic music's more experimental spheres, Smoke recently said, "it's nice to get my mind back to dance floor." The music is far from straightforward 4/4 fodder, but here those investigations are bolted to a more functional chassis.
On "LSD", the kicks thud between scampering toms then suddenly squirm into less expected shapes, creasing against the scratchy synth line. It's as hallucinogenic as the title suggests. "Tommy Knockers"'s swung thud is so heavy it crackles as it pounds away beneath arps whose swirl seems dreamy at first, then nightmarish.
But despite the drums' clout, they're secondary to Smoke's sound design. Synths layer like gathering storm clouds. A riff like "Oni"'s—which sounds not unlike something Mr Ayhun might fashion—is at first effervescent but collapses into oppression. It's a similar tack with "Green Man," where a straightforward techno chugger racks up disembodied voices over steam-engine drums, twisting at the midpoint into a mélange of almost folky arpeggios. It all makes for constant shifts in mood, of tension built then released like crashing waves.
A3 Tommy Knockers