Borka: What Sticks

Twenty-seven minutes of alluringly wonky glitch-hop from Ljubljana, Slovenia-based beatmaker Borja Mocnik aka Borka. His own self-effacing characterization of his music—that it's “more beats than richly arranged pieces [and] mainly sample-based and slowish”—doesn't do justice to how fully formed the tracks on his debut EP sound. Mocnik's spent the last decade DJing and producing, so he's clearly a man with skills who also knows how to work a hook to maximum advantage. Synthesizers, samples, and head-nodding beats are the ingredients Mocnik blends together in cuts that argue their case in, on average, three minutes and then quickly move along. What Sticks, in other words, is no slapdash, lazy effort but something considerably more than mere beat-based exercises.

Mocnik has an undeniable ear for melodic hooks. That's immediately obvious when syrupy strings and a choir's exhalations roll out at the start of the wonky “Stringy Thingy.” There's a vocal melody in “Le Vent” that's as addictive as crack, and the flute riff that accompanies it isn't far behind. The earthy hip-hop groove anchoring “Jimmy Sings” gets a nice boost from a dramatic vocal Mocnik patches together from places unknown, while “Miss You Like My Hi Hat” overlays a slo-mo glitch-hop pulse with a smattering of soul vocal samples and synth flutter. It's telling that the EP's only misstep comes at the end in the form of an overly busy “Stringy Thingy” remix by Croatian producer Josip Klobucar. To be frank, the simple charms of the original are brought into even sharper relief when heard after the remix.

June 2012