5 out of 5
Label: Analogical Force
Produced by: Reid Dunn
Respect your elders; and go your own way. In this crowded world of Braindance acolytes, where so many are trying to out-BPM one another and toss another clever Richard D. James swipe onto their pile of bloops and bleeps, it’s a mantra – in all my skill-less, wouldn’t-know-a-synth-if-I-bought-one-and-learned-how-to-use-it abilities – which I’d use to caution many modern electro artists. If that long-winded sentence ain’t clear (how cans’t it be??), I tend to hear a lot of acts that make a splash just by upping the quirk of their shtick, and forgetting to back it up with songcraft. Or they go see deep with their scene referencing that they lack their own identity. And, as an Official Old Man, there are those artists that I just feel like we’ve heard their like before, buried somewhere in a pile of electronic LPs dating back to the 80s. All of these variations require talent, even when it’s mimicry, but it’s hard for me to necessarily get enthused when the lasting thought they leave is a reminder of some other album my tastes prefer.
Dwaalicht – who, let’s note, in another win for the then-burgeoning Analogical Force label, had some releases under the name Wisp on classic labels like Rephlex – has followed my advice (yes, I will take credit) at a level beyond what I could ever imagine. Welkin is, I’m pretty sure, impossible: unhidden licks from all the classics, like Aphex, u-Ziq, Squarepusher, 808, and yet not a moment that feels indulgent or lazy in doing so. These are just starting points for Dwaalicht, notes blended into a generally house-y / acid beat, getting you nodding and knowing what to expect, until he takes you off in a direction that you couldn’t possibly have expected.
But this isn’t Windowlicker-esqu twists-n-turns; if anything, Dwaalicht remains resolutely on point for a traditional club mix, even doing a badass mid-song break in A-side closer 32614. It’s just that he manages to step through all of this with such a focus on fun, and keeping things moving – the perfect compositional sense of Ed DMX comes to mind, where simplicity and creativity intertwine, though Dwaalicht’s sound is more layered than that – that there’s not a moment on Welkin that isn’t owned by him. Respecting his elders, going his own way.
And any doubts that he can continue to iterate on this concept, after moving from two AFX-tinged openers to jazzy Squarepusher to bouncy u-Ziq, we have analog-sounding 80s synths barging in for funky closer Cyclic Ester. Perfection.