Vtgnike - Steals

  • Club music looms over this ambient album on Nicolas Jaar's label.
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  • In 2017, Boiler Room linked with the Russian label and collective Gost Zvuk to broadcast from outside a dacha, a traditional seasonal home, on the outskirts of Moscow. As the light was fading over the tall trees that surrounded the DJ table, Vtgnike, who released an album called Коллекция ‎ ("Collection") on Gost Zvuk around that time, stepped up to the CDJs. Like some of his own music, his mostly beatless set was strange and beautiful. It was interesting to note his body language as he played ambient, as it tells you something about his style generally. Wearing a cap, an unbuttoned shirt and a T-shirt, he nodded his head to tracks with no rhythm, as if he were listening to hip-hop. This is a handy image when considering Steals, his second album for Nicolas Jaar's Other People label. On 2014's Dubna, we were introduced to an artist with gentle swagger. He took styles associated with energy and attitude—jungle, footwork, hip-hop—and slipped them a Xanax. The beats were softened, the synth lines and atmospheres discoloured. This might not sound terribly original, and you'd be right, but Dubna had a spongy, welcoming quality that made it super listenable. In a review for Resident Advisor, Tony Naylor suggested that the tracks often didn't develop into anything meaty. It was a fair point. But I'd argue that was actually something that people, myself included, liked about the record. There wasn't too much there, so you were free to project yourself onto it. Steals is similar to Dubna in many respects. This time, though, club music is merely a ghost—its presence can be sensed but it doesn't take physical form. It's a quality that most readily brings to mind Actress, who makes tracks that aren't club music but couldn't have been conceived without it. Dean Blunt could also be a reference here, especially in the way Vtgnike's sounds and sources are hard to place. Is this a sample? Or did he write it himself? What sort of instrument is that? And so on. Recognisable samples do surface, like on "Nervnii RnB," which lifts a loop from Usher's "You Make Me Wanna...," but we're otherwise left to drift, unanchored, around these short, exceedingly mellow sketches. It's difficult to make a full-throated recommendation of Steals, such is its lack of dynamism or originality. But like its predecessor, it's a pleasant place to spend a little over 30 minutes.
  • Tracklist
      01. Vechermix 02. Sentimental Geometry 03. Sweep 04. Sausemix 05. VVK 06. Nervnii RnB 07. Can't Tell 08. Slowshit 09. Primechord