- Since the departure of singer James Buttery, Darkstar's pastel-coloured synth pop has been lacking a central personality. On Foam Island, they replaced it with a political message—no bad thing at all—but it's nice, on this follow-up EP, to hear their downcast songs once again rallying around a strong vocal lead. The title, Made To Measure, suggests bespoke collaborative methods, and the songs live it out: two wildly different singers are made to feel at home in the Darkstar universe.
On the stately "Reformer," New York's Empress Of turns the sort of somersaults the Darkstar lads would never risk. She's backed by what might be string and wind chords melted into odd, drooping shapes; it's a beguiling sound, and the producers know it, letting it overpower the vocal slightly. On "Black Ghost," London's GAIKA sounds comfortable outside the gloomier surrounds of his Security mixtape. There's something nursery rhyme-like about his sing-song multitracked refrains, and the beat is dancehall imagined as a kind of ornate toy, all cute wooden doodads and fetching paintwork. For the rest of the EP, we're back to Darkstar's own shy robot vocals. The hangdog "Deltaskelta" is a pleasant rehash of ideas they've explored elsewhere. A loopy Shimsung edit of Foam Island track "Through The Motions" amplifies the original's melancholy, letting it sit heavy over the wafting synth tones and hiccuping clockwork beats.
01. Reformer feat. Empress Of
02. Black Ghost feat. Gaika
04. Through The Motions (Shimsung Edit)