Versa: Blues EP

Don't be misled by the title of Versa's four-track EP for Cut, a small independent label that issues a monthly release of atmospheric electronic music to subscribers via email, as it's most definitely not a blues collection, even if its ultra-polished dub-techno material manifests somewhat of a bluesy quality. More than that, it's characterized by the kind of expansive multi-dimensionality one associates with modern-day dub as well as an especially refined sensitivity to textural detail.

When a rasta-fied voice surfaces during the laconic opener “System Blues,” one could be forgiven for thinking of the output of Rhythm and Sound producers Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald (something like the 2001 Rhythm and Sound compilation) as a kindred reference point for Versa's own creations. Also on the pronouncedly slower tip is “Atlantic Blues,” where ocean sounds, appropriately enough, appear alongside echoing keyboard stabs and a snappy micro-groove. More energized by comparison are the ten-minute “Sunrise in Una,” which animates its watery chords with a bass-prodded groove whose shuffling swing is as funky as it is breezy, and “Yard Blues,” which kicks up some dust with its endlessly burbling dub-house pulse. Admittedly, Versa's sound is heavy on atmosphere and groove and light on melody, but that lack tends to recede into the background when the unnamed producer's material floods the listening space with such aromatic potency.

August-September 2014