Evocativ: Flaneur EP
Absys Records

SGNL: Progenitor EP
Absys Records

If the four tracks featured on Flaneur are representative, Evocativ is the perfect word—despite the absence of one letter—for the music Mark Varlashev and Roman Lobanev create under their chosen name. Though the two hail from chilly areas within Estonia and Finland, their atmospheric electronica-IDM exudes an inviting warmth that can feel almost tropical. Wedding programmed beats to serenading vocal phrases and soothing piano and synth elements, Varlashev and Lobanev conjure a tranquil paradise where darkness rarely intrudes. Theirs is not a music lacking in dimension, though, as the radiant mood established by the opener “Lixir” is followed by the comparatively moodier “Persistence of Memory,” where dark clouds do, in fact, hover and rain, intimated by vinyl crackle, also threatens. The moment passes, however, when “Seasons” arrives with luscious languour to reinstate a spirit of hope and uplift, its downtempo snap nicely augmented by soulful vocalisms and electric guitar textures. But it's the EP's closing track, “The Lovers,” that makes the most powerful case for Evocativ's music when strings, ambient synth textures, and martial drums rise to an aggressive climax before keyboards and beats usher in a post-rock-styled exit.

Also appearing with a new EP release on Absys Records is Bryan Johns aka SGNL. A life-long musician whose professional career launched with the formation of the drum'n'bass neurofunk trio the Robot Death Squad, Johns' music has appeared on a number of labels, among them Covert Operations, Flatline Audio, Moving Shadow, Rubik Records, Noisy Meditation, and, of course, Absys. Progenitor, which features Johns collaborating with Alcrani on two cuts and R4NSOM on one, hits harder than Flaneur and complements Evocativ's atmospheric dimension with a punchy rhythmic drive. Though a typical Progenitor cut sees Johns peppering crisp beat workouts with vocal snippets and grounding them with a thick bass undertow, a smattering of dubstep seeps into the scene-setting “Progenitor,” specifically in the cut's low-end bass attack, while Johns keeps the listener engaged on high with a series of clipped vocal flourishes and billowing synth textures. As strong are “Don't You Know,” which Johns and Alcrani power with a muscular groove and colour with a generally foreboding vibe; “Soul,” where the two stoke the fires of a wiry, dubstep-inflected pulse; and “Rubber,” which finds Johns and R4NSOM tipping the balance away from dubstep and back to neurofunk of a particularly evocative and nasty kind.

February 2014