- Sleek techno and electro.
- As VC-118A, Samuel Van Dijk crafts electro and dub techno that's considered and reflective, favouring airy pads and crystalline sound design. His first album, 2012's International Airlines, saw him channel "retro-futuristic airplanes, romantic air hovering, turbulent storms and aquatic sunsets" into a record of reduced ambient and electro. 2017's Tabernacle Records-released follow-up, Shift Register, folded in IDM curios and flashes of a more rough-and-ready, dance floor-focused take on electro, while much of 2017's Permutation 12-inch on Frustrated Funk saw him apply his sound world to slightly lower tempos. Inside, his third album as VC-118A, is Van Dijk's first release of original material for Delsin, a label that also specialises in spacey, ethereal electro and techno.
Inside is said to take inspiration from virtual reality and imagined water worlds. The latter might call to mind the mythical electro of Drexciya, and you'd be forgiven for hearing the influence of the group in "Dither"'s machine-driven drums and aqueous synths. But it's Van Dijk's own hallmarks that tie Inside together. The opener, "Tide," starts out as a moody slice of dub techno, complete with unfussy four-on-the-floor kicks, whirring sound effects and the kind of spectral synth lines that have filled his best work. But shortly after the drums gesture to electro, and that sound continues into the laidback analogue funk of "PCB."
Van Dijk's eerie melodies provide many of Inside's finest moments. "Glow" ticks along simply, its glacial pads taking centre stage and offering relief after the more pointed, steely techno of "Hiss." The title track finds Van Dijk drifting towards IDM territory, all blunted kicks and rhythmic synth bleeps that recall Mika Vainio's work as Ø. "Channel" combines a subtle bassline, gurgling synths and a raft of celestial pads with the heftiest kicks you'll find on Inside. Elsewhere, beatless cuts such as "Metric Spaces" and "Integrated Circuits" break up the LP, further driving forward the translucent sound design that runs through the record. It's a formula that Van Dijk barely deviates from. When the results are this alluring, it's easy to see why.
03. Metric Spaces
06. Time Variant
11. Integrated Circuits
13. No More Words