96 Back – TBQFH EP

4 out of 5

Label: Hypercolour Records

Produced by: 96 Back (?)

A powerhouse set of tracks. The only ding – which I’ll cover in track order – is such a spot-on late 90s Rephlex jam that it puts the millions influenced by that style and adopting it to shame, but only feels lesser in comparison to the true 96 Back originals elsewhere displayed.

See, to start: opener Party Animal. This gives off the impression of its title as it kicks in to its clubby beat, but as soon as 96 starts to add in some layers, you can tell something else is going on: a cold futurism plays counter to that head-bobbing backbone, and then the track begins playing with us, breaking and returning with more dynamics and various genre touches – IDM, electro – twisting the dance tune into something much more emotive. An insanely impressive way to start.

Onto Cosied By, going in reverse: a deep and moody ambient wash opens things up for a minute or so, and then the percussion comes in, part playful, part mysterious. The track retreats back to the ambience midway through, allowing for a wonderfully badass break that brings the beat back in, and then it’s this very Amon Tobin-y organic beast of flowing keys and clipped, abrasive electro drums.

With the title track, 96 Back may as well give up making any other songs – it is the best, most mind-breaking thing ever. (Except, y’know, please keep making songs.) Built primarily off of a staccato set of notes, played at fracturing speeds, TBQFH definitely has other things fleshing out its sound, but it keeps coming back to this tweaked progression, and the way it’s milked for endless variations across 6 minutes is jaw-dropping – the kind of track you’re too busy marveling it to properly get into it. …So you listen to it again, immediately.

Closer Fe Symbiotic is the Rephlex jam. Prime Rephlex has always been an influence of 96’s, surely, but this cut is sincerely like something you could sneak onto a 90s Aphex album, or one of RDJ’s label-mates’ albums – perhaps think Astrobotnia. That’s high praise, surely, but again, only because 96 has proven capable of more revolutionary, stand-out stuff, it seems “typical” in comparison. Still a great track, all things considered, making these 4 songs a near perfect EP.