Astrobotnia

Astrobotnia, Pt. 2

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The second installment of the Astrobotnia series showcases the darker side of both parties involved. First for the artist, spraying the speakers with six untitled "Braindance" ear-twisters that veer away from the somewhat softer bubble bath of Pts. 1 and 3. Second, for its host, Rephlex Records, who usually pull off projects like this with a sort of grace -- barely identifiable releases that send collectors into a frenzy by limited distribution and undisclosed composer credits. Flying below radar like this would be dangerous, were it not for such good material. From the start, the sound of Pt. 2 has more in common with label mate (and co-founder) AFX, placing heavier responsibility on ground-shaking drum tracks and acid-blotted sequencers. The melodic elements on this treasured slice of wax are much more subdued; the sweet lullabies and lush ambience play a supporting role for the most part. Side one is a nail-biter of rhythms -- too much for most dancefloors, unless you have five legs. Squeals of organic-sounding sci-fi arm wrestle with an entire factory of drum machines, garnished with harmonic afterthoughts. The first track on side two is especially rewarding; those infamous James Brown yelps get pressed through ring modulators, underscoring epic ambient chords and legendary drum loops that have stood the test of time in terms of popularity. The results have a curious effect; nostalgia from a side view. Track five presses together humming bass sweeps with a great deal of sputtering foreign dialogue that's as ear-tickling as the jungle beats that loom overhead. The record ends with a hyperspeed groove -- an overstuffed incubator of robot bugs, bursting at the seams with every snare rush and synthesizer depth charge. Overall, this release is somewhere between Bogdan Raczynski's drill'n'bass and a Lactavent-era Ovuca. Astrobotnia may be more melodic elsewhere, but here the listeners get to the blackened, gnarled roots of IDM on a label that practically invented it. This is Rephlex doing what it does best, which means it might be hard to find a copy.