- "I've always been totally turned off by the idea of owning expensive, high-end equipment," Nathan Fake said around the time of 2015's Glaive EP. For that record he limited himself to an ancient copy of Cubase and a Roland SH-09 monosynth, and he's kept up the studio limitations since. On last year's Providence LP he broke two years of writer's block by picking up a Korg Prophecy. "It's very hard to program, looks unimpressive, [and] doesn't sound great," he joked. And his latest EP features a "Jupiter 6, broken Akai drum machine and a Yamaha Reface DX," with which Fake recorded a series of unedited one-take performances onto "an old Marantz tape deck." These are one-take straight-to-tape live jams, but Fake doesn't seem to be after the retro "authenticity" associated with that method by dozens of post-L.I.E.S. producers. Instead, his simple tools allow quicker access to the power that has animated much of his best music.
Each track is a concentrated dose of things Fake does well: long aching melodies and chord progressions, surging, dramatic crescendos, hectic drums. The strongest tracks, "Sunder" and "Arcaibh," come first. The former is high-velocity techno, the latter a kind of electro. In both cases the drums slam the mix into the red, contrasting with the synths' pristine drift. The other tracks toy with different moods. There's a scarred IDM whimsy on "Serotonin Drops" and a triumphant tone on "Cloudswept" that doesn't sit so well with the swung drums. On "Lea," Fake revels one last time in the materiality of his synths, making them glisten, fray and melt along unusual vectors. Where Providence showed that he can still make ambitious statements, this EP is a simpler pleasure.
03. Serotonin Drops