- Timeless '90s IDM and ambient sounds are reverently updated.
- Mikron, the duo of Michael and Ciaran Corcoran, might not be one of the best-known acts on Central Processing Unit, but they're among the most representative. Like CPU's founder, Chris Smith, Mikron seem in thrall to electro, vintage IDM and early Warp Records. Also like him, they're not trying to copy those sounds so much as continue where they left off. Severance, the duo's second album of lovely, gently pulsing electronics, so confidently synthesizes the various influences that feed into the Sheffield label that you could it up as the sum of everything CPU stands for, a record that looks forward and backwards at the same time.
Severance has an unhurried feel. The opener, "Embers," moves in gently lapping waves. Breezy chord progressions come and go. Squelchy acid lines emerge from rich backdrops. The execution always feels natural, which is part of Severance's unique appeal: Mikron take bits and pieces from '90s electronic music and put it together in a way that feels contemporary. "Aldergrove," for example, hints at a time when hip-hop was a primary influence on IDM, but the way its dusty loops contrast with Mikron's pristine surfaces and detailed textures is an exemplary mishmash of old and new. "Cast On A Clock Face," a bleary bit of ambient broken beat, is the album's most seamless mix of atmosphere and rhythm.
Amid all the drifting and floating, there are plenty of tracks—"Ghost Node," "Locus Reave" and "NynIV," to name three—that lean towards the club. But even these dance-influenced cuts are defined by their moods and melodies, calling back to the armchair techno of Warp's Artificial Intelligence series. "Lyre," with its nostalgic melodies and springy breakbeat, is a cross between Amber-era Autechre and Boards Of Canada. Even if Severance often reminds you of this era, the execution is hard to argue with. It's hard to listen to a track like "Marble Cross" and not fall for its sumptuous sound, even as it evokes some of the most cherished records of electronic music's past.
04. Ghost Node
07. Sunken Paths
08. Locus Reave
09. Cast On A Clock Face
10. Marble Cross