Matt Karmil


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The fourth album from British house producer Karmil, his debut for Smalltown Supersound is quite a different proposition than his earlier works. A much more ambient affair, it sees him stretching out with long, languid, chilled-out tracks, each built from just a handful of elements. Opener "Sharehold" coasts serenely along on a chiming melodic loop and a slow, softly shuffling rhythm. Close listening on headphones reveals tons of filigreed detail buried in the mix, snippets of field recordings of voices, industrial, and natural sounds, such as the muffled chirping that could be the sound of the bat on the front cover. It segues seamlessly into the cracking rhythm and choppy stabs of the rather more upbeat "Sloshy," powered by an insistent, drilling, single repeated note that gradually fades away, until halfway through the track, a kick drum finally comes in, slowly becoming a rhythm that could be recognized as "house," but which drops out periodically to let the ambient wash back in. "Morals" is a more ambient track with another incessant one-note foundation and a pulsing kick, but not much else in the way of percussion save for more crispy crackling and a trippy reversed cymbal. Album centerpiece "NAND" is the first of the album's two long, beatless ambient tracks, full of airy, glassine tones that form a warm cloud around the listener. It's reminiscent of Eno but doesn't sound process-generated in the manner of the master, but composed of multi-layered, shifting patterns of loops in the style of modern practitioners like Heathered Pearls and Huerco S. The track here most recognizable as house is the single "Can't Find It (The House Sound)." With a twitching rhythm, insistent kicks, and minimalist, hypnotic synth loops, and fully nine minutes long, it's ready-made for the dancefloor; oddly, however, it’s significantly louder than all the other tracks on the record, but at least it’s shorn of the annoying vocal samples present on the shorter 12" version. After the brief (under two-minute) interlude "Gory Hole" comes the epic 17-minute-long closer "Maffé," beatless but for a soft, clicking pulse and a swelling synth loop. Not as interesting as "NAND" but nonetheless wonderfully lulling, it manages not to outstay its welcome despite the extended running time. Karmil is a master of building something entrancing out of remarkably little, and this release proves he has far more than one string on his bow.

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