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- North by Darkstar
8/10 Brian Staff review, 14 October 2010
Righto. This expanded line-up of Darkstar are causing real ripples of excitement on the electronic scene as of now. From deep dubstep fused with digital soul to proto wonky, their journey as a duo has been a slow burning, inspired one so far. Now they've added a vocalist & made a radical stylistic shift into grander, poppier pastures. There's hardly a whiff of "dubstep" about this album. We had an advance copy we tried to make sense of but kept on having to rip off the stereo as it was saturated in vocodered promo voiceovers which completely destroyed the essence & flow of this subtle, wistful album. The majority of 'North' can be best described as blissed-out soulful, downtempo electronica. They are to Hyperdub what Sinner DC are to Ai records I reckon. This is dreamy, beautiful music which really envelops your mind when headphones are brought into the equation! I could even see a couple of tracks on here crossing over into the indie scene with elements like the tentative underplayed guitar on 'Deadness'. The one real recognisable concession to their clubbier roots comes with the classic "Aidy's Girl..." which was probably shoehorned on here because its got that hazy mid-tempo vibe about it so doesn't appear out of place. On its first proper listen, i'm digging 'North' quite a bit now - they've bridged the gap between ecstasy & melancholy that few acts successfully do, the programming and effortless merging of many styles results in a fairly spiritually enriching listen. My only gripe is whilst there's much attention to detail as regards sonics & atmospherics, there seems to be a slight shortfall in the actual songwriting department. Many songs are simply too busy gazing at the stars and whilst this makes for a pleasant listen - all understated dramatics and all - I'm left hankering for more actual tunes? I'm sure that kinda thing will develop in time, given that everyone's having palpitations about this record. There's no easy comparison with anyone else throughout which means this is probably quite a fresh sounding outing. I reckon if you dug 'Crooks & Lovers' by Mount Kiimbie, this should be on your shopping list
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