ASC - TMA-1
The Space Cadets label has already become something of a stalwart of ‘drum & space’ after what is only their third release. NASA001 and 002 – ‘Bedroom Community / Kite’ and ‘Otaku / Otaku (ASC Remix)’, both produced by the talented Russian Oak – are a pair of records of rare excellence that have pushed the ‘microfunk’ sub-genre into the forefront of pioneering 170 drum and bass. The production machine that is ASC returns after his remix duties on 002 with a full four track EP that showcases his distinctive sound and sonic attention to detail.
Aqualoop starts off with a track firmly grounded in the autonomic: Silent Dust’s A Million Words springs to mind as rain drops patter amidst waves of synths and a clean, shifting bass. A flourish of bongo taps a la Stonehead coupled with familiar female vocal snippets add variety to create an airy, floating opener. With Esper, ASC returns to the darker sounds with which he is equally adept. Weighty kicks and a more aggressive, off-centre drum pattern that flirts with arrangements more suited to IDM; a cavernous bassline lifted by a brief spacious excursion before being brought back down by that overpowering clap. Sarang pairs well with Aqualoop: that recognisable floating atmosphere permeated with heavily processed breaks and funky drummer cymbal taps. The boomerang bassline ebbs and flows as the organic, transformational percussion dominates: an altogether complex and intriguing track. TMA-1 is a more straight-forward, dancefloor orientated affair that somewhat lacks the inventiveness of the previous three. Less of a lowlight than a testament to the level of uniqueness we have come to expect from ASC’s sound, it is one purely for the head-nodders. The final 5am-set come-down.
The strength and variety that this release offers is remarkable considering the amount James Clements has on his plate: two fantastic releases on Samurai and its vinyl-only sister label Horo a mere two weeks ago; his forthcoming The Gradient Project on Auxiliary Transmissions; plus a return for the Symbol series with #5 from Method One and #6 from East of Oceans aka bvdub scheduled for March. The degree of care and quality control put into these works are standard-bearing and, adding NASA003 to the list as another resoundingly successful release for Space Cadets, we’re already looking forward to 004. A little birdy tells us it might blow your mind.