R&S have been relentless in bringing something unique with every release this year. Lone’s Reality Testing, which combined Hip Hop inspired beats with some fiercely emotive synth work, brought with it reminiscence of Luke Vibert for a post dubstep generation. Alex smoke with his distinguishably crooning vocals, offered a melancholic escape in the guise of a series of Techno tracks, while jungle-referencing breaks from Mr. Tessela and an interesting bass-heavy assault by way of new-comer Shanghai Den brought up the rear. These releases continually re-defined the label’s motto; “In order to dance” and it’s with the latest release from debuting young star Alma Construct that I’m starting to question how much further the label can go with this dictum. Two tracks in I’m greeted with the type of distortion-heavy feedback only a guitar could conjure via Deer drink from Water. It’s an abrasive textural construction from the young Josh Thompson that supersedes his 19 years. A big moog synth thumps out an atonal melody of great mastery, while the inappropriate whine of feedback fills out the rest of the track to form a wall of sound. It can draw parallels to Nine Inch Nails, but at the same time it sounds like J-Dilla and Jean Michel Jarre had an argument.
This sentiment is re-enforced throughout the rest of the EP. From the lethargic Imagine them to the disruptive auditory experiments of the Dialectic twins, A and B. The instrumental timbres are very reminiscent of the late seventies and early eighties and parallels with masters like Vangelis can easily be drawn. The compositional aspect however is the element that sets Alma Construct apart for me. Melodic dissonances continuously appear over dense harmonic frameworks. These are particularly well crafted within the vicissitudinous opener On the Edge, Surrounded with the Shores of Assudrey. Here that R&S motto rings truer than on any other part the EP, as the focus clearly shifts to a track that welcomes an inhibited shuffle in order to dance. A simply crafted piano motif repeats alongside a crooning vocal sample of inscrutable melodic beauty, which reminds me of early Elphino. But lets not forget that Mr. Thompson is still a teenager and just when the track is in its prime and the listener is securely familiar with the composition, the vocal falls into a downward spiral through its tonal range and silence suddenly overwhelms the listener before the beat comes back accompanied by some feedback and pads. It’s like a big ‘fuck you’ to the listener, as if to say: “thanks for enjoying my tune, here’s some more noise.”
I can understand the hype around this release now. Before I’d even received the promo I was inundated with news about this new artist and his creation for the legendary label. It fits in nicely just behind Shanghai Den and in amongst the likes of Lone, Tessela and Alex Smoke, but also stands out amongst recent releases as something truly distinct.