Klaus - Sabz / Qua

  • Klaus shifts from weightless ambient to dubstep that hits like a ton of bricks.
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  • Since he debuted on wax in 2011, Nick Sigsworth—once an affiliate of James Blake's 1-800-Dinosaur label and party—has inhabited one of UK dance music's smokiest and most secluded corners. Building on the template partly pioneered by producers like Blake and Airhead, Sigsworth took dubstep and garage (or something like it) to new levels of spareness, creating delicate sound sculptures in some netherworld between ambient and dub music, mostly on his own Tanum label. You could also compare these records to the weightless grime of Mumdance and Logos mid-'10s experiments, but there was something different happening here, something even lighter, lonelier. Each transmission from Tanum, every three years or so, brought the music deeper into the abyss—at least, until now. "Sabz," from the fifth Tanum release, starts with an ominous chord stab that should induce an almost Pavlovian response in anyone raised on the early Hyperdub, Tectonic or Punch Drunk catalogues. Then it descends into deep, satisfying dubstep, with an immense yet spacious soundscape that feels like a roar compared to the whisper of previous Tanum releases. Strings at the end add a hint of melodrama, while the rattling drums move like a Slinky tumbling down a staircase. The flipside is stranger, but familiar in a different way. Beginning with foreboding voiceover—real early Tempa vibes here—this one has a fleeting, lopsided beat that lands with a thud, as if throwing itself at the ground with each new measure. Fragments of vocal get caught up in the whirlwind, offering glimpses of melody amidst the fray, like the microscopic-sized elements of older Klaus records blown up on a macro scale. It's tempting to call this record a throwback, indulging in the physical thrills of the first and second waves of dubstep with the knowledge and experience of someone who witnessed it all happen then and there. But this music wasn't made in 2007—it's from 2021, and it feels weighted with something fraught and existential. Klaus records have always been strangely beautiful, saying more with silence than with sound. On "Sabz" and "Qua," he's saying the quiet parts out loud.
  • Tracklist
      01. Sabz 02. Qua