Niccolò Bianchi: Estasi
Shabu Recordings

Estasi, the debut EP from Como-born electronic producer Niccolò Bianchi, augments three original productions with remixes by Vaghe Stelle, Angelo Battalani, and Shabu Recordings head Axel Helios, who founded the label in early 2011 as a home for Avus, Jesse Somfay, and others. Bianchi's genre-defying tracks thread analogue synthesizers and electronic piano into beat-driven tracks that touch as much upon dance music as krautrock and electronica.

The opening title track kicks into gear with a funky bounce, the music so heavily synthetic in design and so ornate it suggests it could be labeled IDM as much as techno or house—more Plaid than Plastikman, in other words. That's in keeping with Shabu label's own focus on electronic music that puts ideas ahead of genre considerations. The equally rich “Nebbia” pulls into its orbit elements of house, IDM, and kosmische musik for a transporting, seven-minute excursion through multiple climes, some rhythm-driven and others contemplative. Glimmering arpeggios illuminate Bianchi's third original, “Amata Phegea,” before a downtempo 4/4 drum pattern sends it on its merry way. The EP's sunniest track makes one feel as if one's hiking along a dew-covered country path on a gorgeous summer morn.

On the remix tip, Stelle's “Nebbia” remix doesn't stint on the track's beat-driven dimension but does darken it, resulting in a foreboding banger that oozes no small amount of dystopic flavour; Battalani's “Amata Phegea” makeover amplifies Bianchi's track with energized propulsion (there's also a “Drum Tool” version of “Amata Phegea” that inflames its kosmische and IDM qualities); and Helios himself takes the reins for a euphoric rave riff on the title track that, to be honest, might just be the EP's most striking track—“Estasi” indeed.

December 2011