Album: μ-ziq – Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique (Planet Mu ZIQ190CD 2007)

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Planet Mu has established itself as one of the top electronic music labels over recent years, with a particularly strong reputation in the field of dubstep with Vex’d and Boxcutter among others. This all stems from what is basically a one man operation. If that weren’t enough, label-boss Mike Paradinas still finds the time to create his own music, released under the pseudonyms Kid Spatula, Jake Slazenger and μ-ziq. Along with Richard D James and Luke Vibert, Paradinas is part of a trio of maverick producers who have dabbled in any number of electronic fields over the past 15 years, leaving behind a bewildering discography in terms of quantity, variety and quality.

Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique is the first μ-ziq long player since 2003’s Billious Paths. It’s also one of Paradinas’ most consistent and accessible sets. Whilst still eclectic, it’s not as willfully all over the shop as some of its predecessors. Tight, concise, slightly woozy melodies dominate the record. Nothing is allowed to stretch out for longer than it needs to. For the most part, the tempos are fairly low, with little in the way of the hectic drill ‘n’ bass workouts of yore, and the structures are kept reasonably simple.

Some tracks are redolent of IDM’s early nineties heyday, such as the sublimely pretty “Strawberry Fields Hotel” which would sit comfortably on any early Aphex set. It’s not all mellow sweetness – “Old and Tired” is distressed and dirty, “Acid Steak Knife” a pumped up acid track, and closer “Drum Light” corrupts its lovely melody with swathes of speaker-shredding noise.

Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique may not have that many cuts that leap out after the first couple of spins, but there is nothing that cries out to be skipped, either, and the seventeen tracks are of a consistently high quality.

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