Graze – Soft Gamma Repeater

NK54_Graze_LP_artwork_1500px_webDuring the latter half of Soft Gamma Repeater, Graze uncovers the demon that has been convulsing in the shadows for the previous five songs, contorting the darkness until it reveals a face in the black light. Uprizen breaks through with a ghetto-tech arrangement supplanted into the textures of an industrial techno track during the crux of Adam Marshall and Chris Anderson’s sophomore album for New Kanada. It represents all the elements that have made Graze a seminal sound on dance floor’s the world over. An ominous saw tooth synth layers over the break beat, while a female vocal repeating the line, “Uprizen” get’s subjected to some clever editing to manipulate a drug reference out of the incompliant sample. It’s that sinister model underlying each release, that warrant’s Graze’s unique appeal. The Canadian Duo’s compositions often are very concurrent with that UK techno sound that was first established by artists like Boddika, but their slick productions, combined effortlessly with the menacing disposition that envelopes their tracks, bears a distinction from their neighbours across the pond. Their natural domain is in the concrete subterranean dwellings of the European nightclub even when they move in to the more ethereal atmospheres. Circadia, the first cut from the record offers moments of beautiful repose through a legato vocal that seems to float in the stratosphere just before a serious of thunderous claps and kicks establish the break-beat once again, juxtaposing the ambient vocal with a staccato rhythms, grounded by an ominous trichord bass-line hinting, but not yet revealing, the demon breathing below the surface.

The visceral ethereal moment continues on through on Banding, but it is during Gneiss when those contorting shadows reveal the first peak at the shape of the menacing spirit at the heart of Graze. Its sinister character is cultivated by sparkling metallic percussive parts accentuated by the busy modulating synth that only at times reveal its noisy disposition, never quite taking centre stage. The anticipation is unrewarding as very little develops from there, before it eventually falls into the lounge-y house chords of Swarz and reveals another aspects of Soft Gamma Repeater’s appeal, and for that matter, what undeniably attracts us to Graze’s. The broad nature of their influences makes for compositions that incorporate the history of dance music. Graze supplants elements like the trap-like kick of Uprizen to the Amen breaks on Swarz into a Techno aesthetic that is able to communicate the genre to an audience of diversified listeners.

Although established on Edges, this element is more noticeable on this new outing. It can get a bit over whelming when too many influences culminate on a track like Swarz, but when they pull it back into a minimalist sonicsphere like Anttna, the results are impressive. Like Circadia, it pulls the dominant beat programming into a solemn atmosphere, where beauty is interjected with a sinister motive that could only be successful in its objective for the dance floor, propelling its subterranean audience to the beat of the demon’s drum. As this subsides again into its malevolent hovel in the shadows and an uplifting melody on Veil restores the order that preceded the album with a beatless composition, Graze conclude the album as it begun. Moving the demon back into the shadows from whence it came.