12" £5.99 ZIQ359
12" on Planet Mu.
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Now I’m 32 I don’t really need any more reminders about ‘the passage of time’, ‘time marching on’, information on how the hands of time will only go forwards and never back, metaphors about grains of sand falling through fingers and the like, but picking up this new record by Mike Paradinas (key force of Planet Mu and all of its varied splatter-painted output) I felt obliged to look back to his first release as µ-Ziq, ‘Tango N’ Vectif', only to fall to my knees in despair, clutching the tattered copy and realising that I was listening to a record that was released over 20 years ago. I sometimes spend time in the company of people that were released 20 years ago.
The reason for all this backwards-looking came from the strange sensation I got listening to this new material that simultaneously harks back to a classic era but is equally informed by the advancements in-between. It’s a feeling of frustration that despite all that time passed, we still somehow end up at a point where nothing has really progressed at all, leaving us with a kind of watered-down, self-referential conundrum. There is talk of ‘retro-futurism’ surrounding this release (“the music of the future as it felt in the early 80s”), but isn’t that the feeling Tango N’ Vectif induced back in 1993?
Aside from a suggestion in brief opener ‘Taxi Sadness’, gone are the twirling breakbeats and caustic junglisms of yore, bringing to the fore the melancholic melodic backdrop that always sat beneath the serrated edge of earlier tracks. But without that abrasive foil the solemn choral samples and melodramatic synthscapes sound overwrought and lumbering. There are deft flourishes in the aqueous sonic theme of twinkling, iridescent droplets and precipitations that mist the production, adding a depth that reminded me of the detailed orchestral synthesis of Bola, the soundtrack work of Vangelis never being too far out of mind either. The spectre of Mu’s dubstep years hangs over tracks like ‘Smeester’ and ‘Blem’, and in the subdued highlight ‘PRG’ we get a prime slice of Aphex-style glacial ambience wrapped up in nostalgia-inducing underwater glimmers and whooshes, but really this feels to me like a record where ‘retro-futurism’ reads as ‘referencing former glories’ and comes as something of a disappointment.
Completists will maybe suggest it’s actually me that’s stuck in the past, but if you’re new to the µ-man I recommend starting way back at the heyday that this record infers, and seeing where it spits you out.
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