I really enjoy this time of year for music. In Europe, it gets darker and colder. The mood is somewhat somber, but nothing quite as much as it is January. Combine this with the last opportunity to make an impact on your listening audience’s year, and you have a flair for the dramatic. There is a plethora of music being released during this time, as every label vie’s for top billing on those ridiculous best-of lists that are soon to follow. I couldn’t care less about these unsupported systems of favouritism but I am happy nonetheless, as incredible artist share the more macabre side of their output. One more artist to join the fold this year is Egyptrixx real name David Psutka. His Bible Eyes LP often makes its rounds in my playlist and he is back with another LP on the Night Slugs label, A/B till infinity.
It is always difficult for an electronic music artist to inaugurate a musical identity, especially with the absence of vocals. Very few artists are immediately recognised through their productions and trends often inform their work. What is quite obvious from the start is that this is definitely an Egyptrixx album. Title track A/B til infinity , which follows on from an abruptly ended intro, immediately establishes that familiar sound we associate with this producer. Arppeggiated synths and floating pads are punctuated by the odd percussive punch and it soon becomes clear that this sets the mood for the rest of the album. The textures are dark and malicious, a little more so than on previous releases but this is not the most palpable difference. What is more obvious is the lack of regular dance-floor friendly drum programming that usually lays the foundation on other Night Slugs releases. This seems to be somewhat of a trend recently as I have witnessed similar approaches from other club-informed producers. Almost as if in purposeful opposition to the EDM friendly pop productions of late, electronic artists are negating drum machines in favour of far more spatial sonic environments.
The dark melodic/harmonic textures seem to betray something of Ptsuka’s temporal and spatial locality. Like the compositions of Thomas Köner, which portray stark arctic environments, A/B til infinity sounds like it was born out of the producer’s hometown of Toronto. There are references to city living throughout and I cannot ignore the comparison to the seemingly endless winter that will be gripping most of the northern hemisphere. This is informed by the slow moving pads and reverb-laden drones that dominate, but also the title might give away something of this influence. Eventhough space and time might have informed the artist, A/B til infinity cannot be confused for anything other than an Egyptrixx album. The metallic synth stabs on Bad Boy and Adult are the prime example of this version of Ptsuka’s sound. The latter featured on the precursor EP for this album in remix form. The album version is far more austere and pleasing than the obtrusive Helix Bootleg. The other inclusion form the EP is Water. One of the only two beat orientated tracks on the album. It is still very much part of this album and the textures tie in nicely with the rest of A/B til infinity.
It is a challenging thing to produce an electronic album. EP’s are easier and thus more prevalent. They are comprised of only a few tracks that need little or no defining similarities. Albums require a single frame of mind and in this technologically influenced music it is hard to not be distracted by a new trend or piece of equipment. Egyptrixx has managed to maintain this single frame of mind on A/B til infinity. He did it previously on Bible Eyes, but this is not merely a carbon copy. The tracks are far more ethereal and again I can see comparisons to a current trend, without succumbing to stereotypes. Disorbital shares similarities with quite a few releases this year and the final track, A.C.R.R concludes the whole album on the same note as it opened.
It sets the mood for the season to follow and definitely stands out amongst the hoard. It is not a summer album and requires an intense listening exercise that is far more involved than is needed for an EP/single. For those who are in need of instant gratification, Alta Civilisation and Water should suffice well. I would however advice to listen to the whole album and maybe you will share a similar endearing attitude to the following releases of this period. ‘Tis the season after all.