Velum Break – Cloaca

3 out of 5

Label: Analogical Force

Produced by: Richard Breedon

Over their first few releases Velum Break has proven themselves as a reliable source of quality IDM electro, trained in the classic 90s-era Warp sensibilities. It’s calming stuff, although it’s also, to me, relatively faceless: had Velum been part of that classic roster, they’d be a good standby, but perhaps always making you wonder if there’s something a bit more around the corner.

Cloaca seems, initially, to be where Velum is throwing down the gauntlet, going full bore into wiggedy-jagged Rephlex territory, a la Squarepusher at his most extreme, but melded to VB’s appreciation for a melodic backbone. This is absolutely a rush at first, opener Upsuck tearing out of the gate… but past the initial shock of crazy-ass BPM and tone shifting synths and effects, we hit a point where the track runs out of ideas, or iterations. Velum still commits to it, it’s just that this is the IDM version of the kind of pleasantry the artist committed previously. Is it fun, and is it solidly produced / performed? Absolutely. Upsuck is a win, save still not being very identifiable after its initial flourish.

A few other tracks on Cloaca follow this pattern: the title track, and Darling Take Hold Of Me starts out with impressive restraint, but turns into a downbeat variation of the same effect. I don’t mean to dismiss these tracks, as they’re not outright mimics, rather taking bits and bobs from notables in the IDM scene and smoothing them out into a sounds-like mass. That absolutely takes skill, and the music is polished, if lacking that nudge that makes it stand on its own two feet.

The remaining tracks show where that nudge could lead, though; perhaps tellingly, these are also the shortest tracks on the EP. Zone Hands, along with Cloaca, is one of two club bangers here, but unlike the latter, which is mentioned above, Velum keeps Zone Hands under control, pushing it outside of his comfort zone of palatable beats but not trying to spazz out with it; it reminds me of some of EOD’s smoother works. Closer Utopia Cape is pretty chill stuff, and reminiscent of earlier VB, but he layers on top of that, working the percussion expertly throughout.

All of this still keeps Velum Break on the radar of electronic artists to watch, and furthermore definitely shows where there’s potential to push past some of the nostalgia that has limited them to familiar sounds.