Najem Sworb: Hyrdrocarbon EP
Ai Records

Ai's recent focus has been more EP releases than full-lengths and, while there's nothing necessarily objectionable about that, a release like Najem Sworb's Hydrocarbon is so solid, it makes one desperately crave a fuller, album-length presentation. Currently Strasbourg-based, the French DJ/composer cites Maurizio, Autechre, and Carl Craig as key influences but the EP's material sounds more like a totally focused Vladislav Delay collaborating with Deepchord on a half-hour of concise cuts.

Sworb's material inhabits an immersive zone that obviously has more in common with Basic Channel-Chain Reaction than Minus, and nowhere is that more clearly heard than in the closing “Teranidian” where billowing washes threaten to consume the rumbling, bass-heavy beats. The title track establishes its deep vibe immediately with a brooding mass of rippling chords and Fluxion-styled techno beats. In “Not Only,” multi-layers of vaporous emissions execute churning paradiddles while a swinging tech-house groove moves the colossus forward, while “Verladcre” opens in stripped-down mode but quickly grows into a cyclone of billowing haze, thrumming beats, and stuttering synth streams. Thoroughly tantalizing.

December 2007