Klaus, Tusk EP

Illustration by Celeste Byers

[R&S Records]

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Recent entries in the R&S catalog have juxtaposed slick, floor-compatible, bass excursions by artists like Pariah with introspective warm-up fare from James Blake and The Chain. This debut EP from Klaus sits firmly in the latter camp. Besides his remix of Mount Kimbie’s “Carbonated,” not much is known about the young Londoner, which makes the prospect of a full EP on R&S somewhat intriguing. Opener “Tusk” uses clear subs, brisk hats and No U Turn-era bleeps to dramatic effect, but although the palette is intense, the effect is poignant. Kick patterns are completely eschewed, leaving only the bare bones of what could be — with the addition of mainframe percussion — a peak-time roller, but it’s the very absence of expected elements that brings the drama. Ghostly pads volley into the ether, building a sinister vibration that twists opposing emotions into an original and engaging whole.

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By contrast, “Fens” plays out like a wholesale homage to Basic Channel, replete with expertly deployed reverb and echo. The cavernous kicks, layered with requisite booming sub, collide into shakers and click track snare while congas and tightly EQ’ed hat snippets snake around it. Although the inspiration is very obvious here, the track feels like an expertly executed tribute rather than cynical hash. “Cypher” offers perhaps the standout moment. Cold atmospherics build unease and tension before breaking into the ever-present undertone of melancholia. “Pim” closes the set with hot claustrophobia, its rising drone descending into a deep well of morose bass stabs and muted hats. Fans of recent Demdike Stare or Andy Stott material should take note. The Tusk EP is an assured package for a debut, and what these tracks may lack in outright originality they make up for with crackling intensity of their executions.

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