- "UK dance music heritage is the bedrock of what I do," Omar McCutcheon, AKA Batu, told The Quietus in 2015. Since McCutcheon's 2013 debut, Eraser / Stairwells, he's used fractured experimental techno and rigorous sound design to build on those foundations. But McCutcheon's music isn't simply well-produced hybrids. On 2015's "Cardinal," waves of sub-bass flapped like wings—or were they helicopter blades? The squeaks of metal on "Monolith," a more recent track on Timedance, had an organic spring. McCutcheon's music is given life by these subtle illusions, where synthetic sounds seem to mimic nature, and vice-versa.
"Groundwork," from Murmur, has an impressive repertoire of tricks. Melody is squeezed from looped congas struck at various pitches. A whistle slides up and down. Bird calls erupt in a stream of noise, which, as McCutcheon extends the sound, begins to resemble something between a scream and a gale. In another interview, McCutcheon referenced the challenge of innovation within the confines of functional club music. In resisting straightforward bangers, McCutcheon creates movement through routes that are suggested rather than realised. The kicks on "Whisper" land squarely on the grid, but only on the first two counts of each bar. In their absence, transposed hi-hats, spinning syllables and squelching moisture foster an uncomfortable atmosphere. McCutcheon then decants what would be the reassuring flow of a 4/4 beat in tantalising drips. He offers more concussive thrills on "Murmur," where the kicks match the hand drums hit for hit. But it's Murmur's spectrum of sounds—disorienting and of inscrutable origin—that leaves you dizzy.