- Beautiful and bass-heavy techno on Martyn's label.
- Ashley Thomas, who releases music as Otik, has followed the same arc as many of his Bristolian peers working at the leftfield end of contemporary UK techno. He started out making dubstep and grime before focusing on percussive techno. But even in this crowded field, Thomas has found a niche blending tough drum workouts with anthemic, often tear-jerking melodies. It's a tough balance to get right, but on "Lightyear Dub," he knocks it out of the park. Chill-inducing synth work skates across a dembow upbeat made crystalline with the occasional rattle of glass bottles clinking. It's the highlight of Soulo, an EP that juggles sweet emotion and deep sub-bass.
When your melodies aim for the stars, there's always a risk you'll end up too far into the stratosphere. The title track comes close with an arpeggio and lovestruck vocal sample that are almost too euphoric. But the crunch of the low-end keeps us from spiraling away into space. The B-side is equally emotional, but adds some rhythmic oomph. "Garuna" is a breakbeat bubbler with a melancholy vocal sample and "Paradise Mode" is cerebral drum & bass with some plaintive pads and a snaking synth lead. It's not outside the realm of the possible to imagine either ending up in the world of TikTok drum & bass stardom.
Thomas has been putting out records since 2014, but this one feels like his most complete artistic statement to date. A self-described Burial fanboy, he showed us a softer side on a nightbus-channeling EP last year, favouring textures over fast tempos. What makes Soulo stand out is the way he transfers this softer palette to club music. The fact that 3024 is the label putting this record out feels like another feather in Thomas's hat, the Martyn co-sign letting us all know that Otik 2.0 has arrived.
01. Lightyear Dub
03. Paradise Mode