Option Command: Horizon Glow
The British Columbia-based King Deluxe rolls on with its fifth and sixth releases, the first a debut EP by Option Command (Australian Martyn Palmer) and the sixth a mini-album by Vaetxh (Bristol producer Rob Clouth).
Assembled using Ableton, an SP-404, Kaoss Pad, and Microkorg, Palmer's effervescent Option Command tracks make one feel like one's stepped into a pulsating, light-streaming video arcade. In “Polybell Strategy,” beats ricochet like billiard balls and whirring electronics stutter like chattering monkeys, while the “Ellie Can Dance” title might be true, but the slow and stumbling lope within the track itself suggests the dance is a severely inebriated one. “Radio Echo,” by comparison, unfolds more clearheadedly in a smooth, dubstep-like flow; the downtempo “Break Even” couples a lurching dubstep groove and flickering 8-bit electronics; and the title track chills the pace for a becalmed yet nonetheless radiant ambient outro. The EP's fifteen minutes flash by quickly, and it wouldn't be overstating it to say that one leaves the release wanting more from Option Command, not less.
The material gathered on Vaetxh's Mass finds Clouth drawing upon Autechre and Aphex Twin traditions and updating the results with a bold sensibility informed by dubstep, funk, and hip-hop. In the title track, we're first exposed to a writhing, even strangulated series of hyper-complex rhythmning that recalls Autechre at its most intricate, but then a gentle melodic figure appears that reveals there's room for warmth in the Vaetxh universe. “Clipper” is equally glitch-laden but even more intricate in design, with this one as rhythmically twisted as a Möbius strip, though once again Clouth warms the machinery with soothing melodic elements. Mass could've been issued as a two-track single, but appears instead as a longer release with the two originals augmented by remixes from Culprate, Woulg, Circuit Bent, Subjex, and Dead Fader, two of the title track and three of “Clipper” (also available as a bonus track is a thirty-two-minute mix that stitches the album's parts into an uninterrupted whole). Definitely worth checking out are Subjex's “Clipper” makeover, which slams with a hellacious dubstep crush that's heavier than anything else on the EP, and Circuit Bent's jaunty wobbler treatment of same. There's an abundance of off-kilter whirr-and-click on Mass, and you'll feel like your head's spinning during most of it.