- Whether you know the identity of Redshape or not, his debut album will certainly reinforce his reputation and also surprise. The Dance Paradox delivers eight exceptional cuts, but it also uncovers a new face beneath the mask, carefully laying the foundation for plenty of future mystery and invention.
The opening tracks rely more heavily on Redshape's now familiar creepy H. P. Lovecraft and '70s sci-fi ambience and mid-tempo pace. There's plenty of the analogue warmth and progressive, compositional style honed during Redshape's lengthy live tours. "Bound (Part 1 & 2)" in particular is an epic, winding journey.
Amongst the charted terrain there are little signs that something different is on the way: The jazzy pads and the exceptionally hallucinating mix of a police siren that make up part of "Garage GT" are new ideas, while the production is marginally tighter, reining in the fuzzy edge of the old sound. But it is the appropriately named "Man Out of Time" that well and truly gives the game away. Out of the sharply swirling synth mist comes the crash of live drums hammering out a breakbeat to the accompaniment of an arabesque melody.
"Rorschach's Game" is the most extreme change in direction. More abstract, it draws its influence from both psychological ink blot tests and the masked hero from The Watchmen, lovingly combining both live and programmed percussion elements to interchangeably contrast or complement the glassy sound matrices that crystallise and flow around them.
Later tracks are rife with live percussion and weirder sounds, as if Redshape's sound is propelling itself into the outer limits as the album goes on. The warped menace of dance floor killer "Dead Space Mix (Edit)" is another standout moment, with pulsing, heavy electronics bedding in nicely with jazzy cymbal work and light snares. The closer "Dark and Sticky" and the pitch bending synth squirts of "Globe" are somewhat conservative arrangements, both unfolding on a tight compositional axis, but still have one eye on strange new worlds away from the dance floor. Those who can get their hands on the limited edition Paradox Dubs will also find more evidence of this new sound.
The Dance Paradox is rich with cinematic atmosphere, invention and aural sleight-of-hand. At once familiar it is also disorientatingly new and it sets itself apart by its remarkable sound design with plenty of fuel left over for the dance floor. It's one of the year's best albums, and reinforces and reinvents Redshape's previously held awe of mystery and unknown.
01. Seduce Me
02. Garage GT
03. Bound (Part 1 & 2)
04. Man Out of Time
06. Rorschach's Game
07. Dead Space Mix (Edit)
08. Dark & Sticky