Album: BOXCUTTER – Glyphic (Planet Mu ZIQ187CD 2007)


Barry Lynn’s Boxcutter project stands somewhat aloof of other acts loosely bound together under the dubstep tag. Geographically, hailing from Northern Ireland, he is far removed from the south London stomping grounds of many of his contemporaries. Musically there is a separation too. Whilst most producers have come through from garage, hip hop, dub and grime, Lynn’s music seems to have parachuted in from a place where AFX acid and Good Looking era drum and bass rule supreme. His debut album Oneiric had a sheen to it completely at odds with the grit and dirt of Kode 9 and Burial. Much of this has been grubbed up for Glyphic his follow-up. It doesn’t have the broken down, emotional directness of Burial, but is nevertheless an eclectic and satisfying record.

The title track ploughs straight in with an extended dose of heavyweight dub jazz. “Windfall” continues in a similar vein, while “Bug Octet” shudders and jumps like a car in too low a gear, threatening to stall at any moment. The tempo is molasses-thick, and so “Rusty Break” comes as a welcome freshener. It’s a dubbed up breakbeat track with rattling snares and hissing cymbals, snatches of guitar and flute. The pace changes again for the spacey echo of “J Dub” which could almost be by the Orb (except that it isn’t about 25 minutes long). Six tracks in, and “Chiral” is the first tune that you could really describe as pure dubstep, with its jerky, slightly off-kilter beats, ultra-low frequency bass and shimmering keyboard backgrounds.

“Kaleid” is a solid enough break, but it is the final third of the album that’s strongest. “Bloscid” is a concise piece of mellow, Aphex-influenced techno with a pretty straightforward 4/4 beat, and a melodic sweetness about it that harks back to the mid nineties. For me, though, “Foxy” is the album’s highpoint. It is probably the most upbeat track in mood, with a fantastic sampled male soul vocal (no indications as to who the singer is), organ and trumpet. It is easily the most floor-friendly tune on the record. It has a weird ending though, as a clattering drum break appears out of nowhere before fading out almost immediately – almost like a shoddy edit on a home-made compilation when you only want one of two tracks that are segued together. The skittish beeps of “Lunal” seemed to be beamed in from Planet Warp 1991, although the beats are far more contemporary sounding. Things are wrapped up with “Fieldtrip”, an atmospheric drum and bass track straight out of the Bukem school. It’s another glorious track, but does illustrate both Lynn’s strengths and weaknesses.

On the plus side, this is an easy and enjoyable listen. There is a good variety of material, and some first rate tunes. It pays repeated plays (I’m currently on my fourth or fifth). The downside is that the eclecticism of both Lynn’s albums tends to obscure his own voice. He makes great music, but it doesn’t really have his own personality stamped on it. He’s more like a chameleon figure, adept at blending in with any musical background. If you hear a Boxcutter track for the first time, there isn’t that instant recognition that other artists of his calibre provoke. In a way he’s a bit like his label boss Mike Paradinas in that respect. It’s not a major fault. But I feel I know more about Burial as a character from his music, despite his anonymity, than I do about Lynn. Nevertheless, you know that you’re going to get good music on a Boxcutter record and I guess that’s the most important thing.

1 Glyphic (7:50)
2 Windfall (2:50)
3 Bug Octet (5:23)
4 Rusty Break (5:13)
5 J Dub (4:36)
6 Chiral (4:37)
7 Kaleid (5:31)
8 Bloscid (3:23)
9 Foxy (5:02)
10 Lunal (4:58)
11 Fieldtrip (6:33)



2 responses to “Album: BOXCUTTER – Glyphic (Planet Mu ZIQ187CD 2007)

  1. the vocal on Fixy is sampled from Jori Hulkkonen’s 2000 track Let Me Luv U.

    I couldnt get enough of that Deep House back then…

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