Less than the sum of its parts.
Alan Myson never seemed particularly comfortable in dubstep. Given the prevalence of browbeating Pepsi Cola-endorsed DJ hooligans like Bassnectar and Skrillex, one can hardly blame him. His hazy full-length debut cYCLiCAL and its corresponding 12” single under the Ital Tek moniker (sometimes stylized as iTAL tEK) had obvious roots in early-to-mid ‘90s Artificial Intelligence-era Warp Records fare, a noble electronic heritage further embraced on 2010’s spangled Midnight Colour.
It took just two years for the 20-something Brightonian to follow that one up, but when he did he’d finally come into a sound of his own, one particularly difficult to define in genre terms. Trumping most of his bass contemporaries, Myson’s Nebula Dance hashed and mashed footwork, garage, grime, and jungle into something fresh and frenetic that loosely bridged electronic DNA gaps. Gurgling rhythmic workouts like “Gonga” and “In Motion” spiraled feverishly into flange and filter, while other cuts recalled certain bits of Planet Mu founder Mike Paradinas’ Mu-Ziq discography.
Following such a revelatory record, stopgap mini-LP Control struggles beautifully and in vain. A nebulous continuation of the Nebula Dance mission, this eight-song offering seems an opportune roundup of tracks either incomplete at the time of the last record or otherwise not quite up to Myson’s standards. It’s especially regrettable that the record withers in comparison to its predecessor given that short releases such as this can often serve as less demanding introductions to an artist.
As with that prior LP, he seems altogether unconcerned about the dancefloor, keeping his productions at inconvenient radio edit lengths—that is, when he’s being generous. The half-baked brevity of rainforest dewy “Doom Dream” and bauble twinkle “Zero” do not serve the record well, the duo of droning interludes veering dangerously towards New Age nonsensicality. Nobody wants to walk out of a rave and into a damn crystals shop.
Whether or not his penchant for economy is determined dancefloor disdain or merely absenteeism, the outcomes on Control are generally quite beauteous and inviting. Tropes find challenges and unlikely counterparts along the way. “Fire Flies” briskly dices amen breaks through cherubic pads, while phantom vocals swell and dissipate over trap-like snares on “Violet”. Arpeggios careen like rogue light cycles on “Challenger Deep” before being overtaken by elongated warbling synth module warmth. The most fully formed of the set, it stands apart from the rest with a sort of moderate majesty.
That track’s aura hopefulness quickly shatters upon encountering “Ultra”, the uneven “Gonga” lite retread that follows. Unable to take it very far, Myson concedes and tempers the tempo with saturated stabs for a quasi-futuristic West Coast hip-hop groove. “Jupiter Ascent’ feels like yet another relent, a stinking slapdash merger of drum n bass whoosh and dubstep smack that’s neither fulsome fish nor fatted fowl. The kitchen-sink approach is all well and good, but occasionally one must wash a few dishes.
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