Image by Charlotte Ballesteros & Hubert Marot
Russia’s A5 has been releasing records since 2007, and while it’s still nearly impossible to find any information on him or her, he’s (let’s just assume it’s a he) seen a recent rise in profile thanks to his work on the Rawax family of labels. Rawax — as well as Housewax, Dubwax, and Chiwax — has an undeniably clever marketing scheme, catering to collectors with a host of anonymous producers and hand-stamped or colored records. The reason nobody’s screamed “gimmick” yet is certainly due to how talented its roster is, and A5 is a great example, as he consistently coaxes new shapes out of deeper house. Udacha 1, the Udacha label’s inaugural release, finds him in as fresh a form as ever, following up those Rawax records with four abstract cuts.
The first track begins normally enough, and in fact in print it’s not so strange at all — 4/4 kicks, frantically panning open hi-hats, a looping, filtered-down, Detroit techno-style arpeggio, and steely chords that are subject to some relentlessly wonky filter twists. Apart from the kicks, though, they’re all significantly messed with, and the way they’re stacked creates a disorienting sense of ADD: no matter which layer you listen to, there always seems to be something crazy happening. The other three tracks follow this format. The second is a little like slow-motion schaffel house, and A5 mixes gloopy bass and a laser-like arpeggio before draping some seriously rich chords and jazzy keys on top. The third reintroduces the panning open hi-hats amid echoing keys and a bass line that gets crankier and more prominent as the track wears on. And the fourth’s fiercely accelerating arpeggio is underpinned by a jacking rhythm — sort of. It’s so spare and yet uses such a variety of drums, it’s as though A5 is hitting buttons at semi-random. That offbeat playfulness is really what makes it — and the rest of the EP — stand out.