3 out of 5
Label: Analogical Force
Produced by: Mike Paradinas
I should always have more to say about µ-Ziq, and I never do. Mike Paradinas’ work was there when I was first getting into electronic music, reading about the artist in relation to Richard D. James / Aphex Twin – my stereotypical starting point – with Royal Astronomy being my first purchased µ-Ziq album.
This album indicated how I would receive Paradinas’ material going forward, up through Scurlage: replaying a first track, again and again, swearing allegiance to the artist, and then not remembering any other tracks from the rest of whichever album. I bought up a lot of µ-Ziq material in the wake of Royal Astronomy, and… didn’t listen to most of it, beyond cursory spins. I mean, I did, but it never made a lasting impact. Which is odd, because I do hear elements of other artists I adore throughout Paradinas’ catalogue, but there’s something about it – what I would unfortunately consider a rather milquetoast quality – that prevents me from tracing lines back and forth to say who influenced whom. In general, though, Mike tends to favor a rather “friendly” approach to IDM: his tracks hit their marks and then burble along melodically, often – to me – without surprise.
He does like to head out of the gate with something stronger, and beat based, such as the hip-hop flecked head-bob of opener Blakers Loop on Scurlage; but thereafter, it’s somewhat business as usual: pretty soundscapes, rounded edges, and pleasant rhythms, that almost purposefully don’t color too far out of the lines for 5-minute runs. It’s incredibly listenable for this reason, but also rather ephemeral. However, in giving the album some due headphone time, the density of these compositions is appreciated; Scurlage does often feel denser than some of Paradinas’ past works, even if the end result is the same: subtle squiggles added here and there; really carefully applied percussive elements; a touch of fun funk on Preston Melodic; a futuristic club vibe on Bentley.
I guess I did manage to say a couple paragraphs’ worth… even if I’m not sure I can make a strong case for Scurlage over another µ-Ziq disc. But the flip side to that is that it’s in good company with the rest of Paradinas’ catalogue, for those eager for more music from the artist.