Ital Tek, Gonga

[Planet Mu]

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Planet Mu’s obsession with releasing footwork seemed to spread to its own batch of artists in 2011, with Machinedrum and Kuedo both releasing LPs heavily informed by the skittery, scatterbrained stuff. It’s only natural that Mu stalwart Ital Tek would take a similar turn by the end of the year, but the surprising part is how natural the turn really sounds for Brighton’s Alan Myson, whose recent work has focused on the stately potential for synth-heavy dubstep and hip-hop.

Lead track, “Gonga,” might be the toughest thing he’s released since his early dubstep days, and it shares in some of Cyclical‘s monochrome drabness. Drained of the vibrancy of last album Midnight Colour, the impact of “Gonga” is in its heavy-set tribal drums, building and building with a feverish intensity that defies their dull thud. Unlike those two producers mentioned above, who used footwork’s manic intensity as a treble-heavy melodic device as much as rhythmic, Myson’s appropriation is almost threateningly powerful. Planet Mu lLabel head, Mike Paradinas, remixes “Gonga” under his old ยต-Ziq alias, loosening up the arch joints, coloring in between the lines and throwing in a vocal sample to inject some humanity into the airless banger.

The other two tracks hearken back to Midnight Colour but in that same uptempo template, and Ital Tek pulls them off even more convincingly than “Gonga.” “Pixel Haze” features that same sense of strangled but aching melody, and the close, rushing percussion plays with the stirring trails of glittering synth in a way that feels both maddeningly complex and awe-inspiringly gorgeous. Splitting the difference between the two, “Cobalt” goes for the jugular again but doesn’t forget to pretty itself up, and with its dulcet chords and throbbing, stationary progression, it brings to mind a more jittery version of house-y efforts by Boddika & Joy O. Ital Tek has always been one of those producers who slipped between the cracks, but Gonga exhibits a new level of confidence and prowess. Coupled with an amazing new live set, his final salvo for 2011 sets up a very bright 2012 for the Brighton producer.

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