A Month In Electronic Music: Raime, Floating Points, Soundstream & More

Rory Gibb takes a scan through some of the month's best dance music releases, including a stunning new EP from Floating Points, new club-ready 12"s from Soundstream, Equalized and Outboxx, and some bleak stuff from Raime

Hello, and welcome to another edition of Hyperspecific. It’s likely to be the year’s last straight-up reviews version of this column, barring a sudden rush of releases come late December (unlikely, given that release schedules usually wind down for a couple of weeks around then). So it feels good to be seeing this year’s lot out in style. Today’s column features the heftiest missive so far from London soul/funk/house prodigy Floating Points, some floor-destroying music from Bristol, London and Berlin and more dark abstractions from Actress and Raime. Watch this space for our next instalment.

Floating Points – Shadows EP [Eglo]

Shadows is Shepherd’s most expansive release to date, and cements his reputation as one of the UK’s most adventurous producers. At 37 minutes long, its five tracks span more stylistic ground than many full-length albums – between them they draw in Theo Parrish-style machine funk, garage-infused house and the sort of nocturnal soul he’s recently been producing for Fatima. While the connection to US house especially is apparent enough, Shepherd’s music is distinct in its involvement with our own dance music history. His rhythms are elastic and swung, buffeted by chunky pulses of sub-bass. Opener ‘Myrtle Avenue’ immediately invites Parrish comparisons – a single overarching theme is drawn out and explored over ten minutes. ‘ARP3’ has been slaying London dancefloors recently in the hands of Shepherd himself, Ben UFO and Joy Orbison: a natural sequel to ‘Vacuum Boogie’, it’s a glorious, near-transparent nine minutes of house music, repeatedly set rolling forward, adrift on rough, churning clouds of low-end.

Soundstream/Soundhack/T.S.O.S – Sound Sampler Vol. 1 [Hardwax]

Equalized #5 [EQD]

Soundhack’s ‘Vintage’ again is typical of that psuedonym – its jabbing bursts of melody press in on the ears even as the spaces between offer fractions of seconds’ worth of respite. The EP’s third track proper and fourth, a barebones DJ tool, are credited to a new name: T.S.O.S. Lacking either Soundhack’s jarring edge or the silken comfort of a Soundtream tune, they’re somewhere in the middle – texturally closer to the former, on ‘Over & Over’ a staccato bassline is allowed to percolate slowly downward through a tight, crunchy rhythm.

Raime – Hennail [Blackest Ever Black]

With their newest EP Hennail Raime hopefully ought to fully escape the rather inaccurate dubstep associations that accompanied their debut 12". There’s certainly a great deal to link their music to people like Shackleton (who, to be fair, is at best a genre outlier anyway), but the connection remains more thematic than it is sonic. Hennail‘s landscapes are pockmarked by bomb craters and punctuated by the odd twisted metal wreck (an interpretation the duo’s audiovisual installation at Unsound Festival this year certainly played up to, all black & white imagery of gutted buildings and frayed steel). Here the sharpened digital clarity of their earlier releases has given way to a far woodier, more organic sound, especially with regard to percussion. For both tracks, Raime seem content to set up an atmosphere and a sense of place then languish there, exploring its nooks and crannies. Both feel like snapshots of far longer pieces; it’s hard not to imagine that somewhere, out of earshot, the rising ritual drums of ‘You Will Lift You Frame Clear’ play onward forever. There’s something righteous about this record. It’s certainly the duo’s best work so far.

Outboxx – Aporia/Cromwell [Idle Hands]

Kowton & Tom Dicicco [Project:Squared]

Kowton – Dirty Little Bomb [Teal]

El Kid – Hypnosis [Left_Blank]

Sam Kidel – String Loops [A Future Without]

Throwing Snow – Pyre [Local Action]

Zhou – I Remain/Noboru [Punch Drunk]

Actress – Rainy Dub/Faceless [Honest Jon’s]

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