Review Summary: (maybe) dance_music: 4 bangers
_welcome, new Skee Mask EP: ISS009
. Memo? Uh, Skee Mask is a German producer/DJ known for blending every single danceable genre of electronic music into highly refined bangers, tastefully sparse and replete with sufficient atmosphere that you can just as easily ride them to a deep space-out as shake it off
to them. His versatility is neither a flex nor a novelty; he’s just extremely competent at channelling a broad range of different styles towards a focused set of integrated ends. Find me another artist whose breakbeat firestorms segue as smoothly into ambient glaze-outs, and I will, well, listen to them with great interest. Cool.
showcases this genre juggle as well as anything else in Skee Mask’s discography, and - selling point! - in unusually accessible form! Held against everything else I’ve heard from the guy (Pool
), this is perhaps the closest thing in his arsenal to a full set of out-and-proud dance bangers. This is partly due to basic matters of tempo and beat forcefulness, but these tie into a wider immediacy: this EP is so tactile you can practically sink your fingertips into any given contour and have it carry you the whole way through. Skee Mask’s approach to melody chimes in here, thanks in particular to a choice range of washed-out vocal samples in the first tracks. His hooks have rarely felt so insistent, exploiting the inner tension of effervescent garage (“USLSD”) and pounding machine-gun techno (“Studio 626”) to recurrently open and close a landing space, their deployment at once delightfully compact and tenaciously recurrent. However, there’s still a sense of the liminal expanse that Pool
in particular mastered so fluently - you might contemplate moving your limbs to these songs, but does that connection actually require bodily displacement? The occasional shoulder wobble is all it takes to make it real. “Bandprobe Dub” is the EP’s highlight to this end - following on from “Reviver”’s spartan tech garage, its beat is swung between skittering breaks and a loitering garage kick, but the simplistic, spectral-mechanical pulse and shimmer at its core hearken way back to a wonderfully old school echo of early ‘90s trance and techno (think Virtual Symmetry). There is so much space
within this track, but it’s never anything less than kinetic and every single facet of it calls out to a separate, equally evocative end. A great piece, whichever timeline you pin it on, and a cogent calling card for an EP so craftily open-ended re. the many ways you can choose to move to it, or not. Go.