Kode9's Escapology is the audio component of a larger project called Astro-Darien, which encompasses a video game within an art installation and a sonic fiction. The story behind the project involves Scottish colonial history and space races, and it's told from the point of view of the lead programmer at Trancestar North, the company developing the game. While the story presumably makes more sense if one had the opportunity to witness the installation, or listen to the audio fiction (released several months after the album), Escapology still works as a stunning experience in its own right. Heavy on brief interludes, filled with buzzing and whirring noises as well as computerized voices, the more developed, beat-driven tracks are incredible fusions of multiple styles of futuristic dance music, showcasing some of Kode9's most complex sound design to date. Tense, jittery rhythms inspired by juke and footwork guide several of the tracks, with "The Break Up" additionally marked by clattering washes of percussion and a truly jarring, high-pitched synth frazzle. "Angle of Re-Entry" similarly has restless percussion and more commanding bass, seemingly influenced by U.K. drill with its swerving up-and-down motions. The spacious "Cross the Gap" adds shimmering melodies to log drum bass patterns inspired by South Africa's amapiano scene, and the remarkable "Uncoil" and "Lagrange Point" wed a variation of this bass sound to atmospheric jungle breakbeats. "Torus" is a tightly knit web of booming bass, skittering beats, and clusters of glowing microchips. Escapology is a portal into an advanced realm from an artist who has remained ahead of the game since day one.
by Paul Simpson