Oknai: Ain't a Dream

In keeping with rx:tx's concentration on the work of innovative electronic artists from Slovenia and other Eastern Europe countries, Oknai's (real name Janko Mandic) Ain't a Dream is the first in a projected series of rx:tx EPs intended to showcase the talents of a new generation of Slovenian beatmakers. The release's seven tracks clearly show Mandic's up there with the best of the glitch-hop crowd, and he even manages to sneak a smattering of dubstep into the EP, too. His is a somewhat raw and lo-fi boombap, though its rough edges tend to get smoothed over by the wealth of detail, sampled and otherwise, that is worked into the tracks' dense arrangements.

Opening salvo “Extraterrestrial Skies” unspools a tripped-out blend of bass bump, off-kilter beats, and fluttering synths, and tops it off with claps and assorted other spacey noises. Look beneath the material's shape-shifting veneer, though, and you'll hear a melancholy song beating at the song's center—Oknai's music is more than mere surface, in other words. Mandic's appetite for chopped-up beats and wonky wobble is well-served by “Little Caravan” and “Like the Sun,” the latter of which receives a mighty kick from an unidentified female vocalist.“Two Zero Six” and “Sevdah” are the sort of bleepy, future-funk headnod we're used to hearing from a label such as Project:Mooncircle, but, of course, it sounds just as good coming from rx:tx. It struck me while listening to the wonky “Subtropic Experience” that Mandic and Eliot Lipp could easily be seen as kindred spirits, so anyone who's cottoned to the slinky boombap Lipp's issued under his own name (Tacoma Mockingbird, The Outside, and Peace Love Weed 3D) or with Leo 123 as part of Dark Party (Light Years) should definitely check out Oknai, too.

December 2011