- When I first heard Dark Sky—specifically their debut release on Black Acre—I wasn't exactly impressed. Their mix of dubstep with garage and junglist tendencies felt a little too trendy, a little too perfectly-timed, and it wasn't exactly the most distinctive music either. As their latest release on the new Pictures Music label demonstrates, however, that was either a fluke or they're just developing alarmingly fast. Frames is a confident EP that reveals an idiosyncratic, even cheeky style using big, obvious sounds and catchy riffs—something like bass music made out of colourful lego blocks.
"Reflex" features a perpetually divebombing synth that occasionally strikes oil and lets loose an explosive torrent of percussive sound effects, spilling out from an avalanche of low-end growl. Showing off the group's more playful side, the bouncy low-end textures and glassy arpeggios of "Night Light" drift in and out between interludes of zig-zagging 8-bit riffs, as frenetic sections plateau into swooning, almost hip-hop interludes. "Drowned City" is self-consciously dramatic, building slowly with clipped strings before dropping its staccato bassline which quickly takes control of the tune, casting a sticky, humid haze over everything else as brighter sounds feebly try to break through with tiny glints of light.
Dark Sky take a stab at garage—practically a requirement in bass music in 2010—with the jaunty "Fly," where ravey stabs of synth hit meekly, as if they can barely contain themselves, before they're allowed to punch through the thin walls and take over completely. It turns into a surprisingly muscular workout, with synth whines bent like industrial girders around the churning, molten groove at its centre.
02. Night Light
03. Drowned City