ENA - Binaural

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  • Since its inception in 2011, Samurai off-shoot Samurai Horo has become one of the most interesting labels within the vague parameters of drum & bass. So far they've released experimental 170 BPM music almost exclusively on two- to four-track vinyl EPs (one notable exception being last year's Scope compilation), but I'd been yearning to hear an artist album from them for some time. ENA is the perfect choice for such a landmark release. The Tokyo-based producer has been deconstructing and rebuilding drum & bass since 2008, although it wasn't until last year that he released his debut solo album, Bilateral. While that record strayed from the genre he'd previously been associated with, 2014 saw him take a renewed interest in the drum & bass template. Anyone familiar with ENA will know his fondness for found sounds. That organic quality is present throughout Binaural. The opener "Dast" begins with what sounds like an alarm, interrupted by surreal swells of feedback. By the time "Pressed" comes around, the album feels like a nightmarish insect slowly rousing, each tight percussive roll a flicker of hundreds of spindly legs. When more obviously synthetic sounds rise to the surface, they're used subtly and sparingly. The soft keys of "Antenna" provide a pleasant interlude, while the occasional ebb of a bassline on "Chemically" helps create something resembling dance music, though it's still hard to imagine it in a club environment. The CD/digital tracks alone would have made for a near perfect full-length for Samurai Horo, but sticking to what feels like a core part of their ethos, the vinyl release is a different beast entirely. On songs such as "Back Cover" and "Fifth Resonance," the skeleton of drum & bass is more clearly displayed, though the general ambience remains the same. The digital version feels a little more coherent and considered, but if you enjoy one you'll surely enjoy the other. Binaural breaks new ground for what was already an impressive label.
  • Tracklist
      Digital: 01. Dast 02. Absorption #2 03. Reconnoiter 04. Chemically 05. Sneaking 06. Pressed 07. City Lights 08. Faction 09. Out Of Nothing 10. Antenna 11. Nerve Fiber 12. Lapslap 13. Recapitulate 14. Hygrophobia Vinyl: A1 Bug Hole A2 5th Resonance A3 Wrong Side B1 Squash B2 Precipice B3 Grey Area C1 Circular C2 Morph C3 Back Cover D1 Big Foot D2 District D3 Tones