Bridging a gap between soaring melodic vitality and subbed-out utilitarianism, October is a house producer in the loosest possible sense. In practice, his warm sound incorporates myriad styles — from disco to techno — while his recent work has leaned increasingly sideways to a darker, bass-inflected aesthetic. Last year’s 12″ with fellow Bristolian Appleblim was an oddity, referencing broken techno and autonomic style DnB in equal measure, while his recent collaboration with Borai was a lackadaisical Workshop-style head nodder. Here, again collaborating with Borai on the A-side, he showcases a homelier — and far more approachable — sound with two well-balanced originals, backed by rock-solid remixes from Danny Wolfers, in both Legowelt and Polarius guises.
“String Theory,” featuring Borai, is a sprightly track imbued with pure outdoor summertime vibes. Featuring a tropical percussive palate — all ticking woodblocks and rising hats — alongside filtered Rhodes samples and seagull calls, it remains at once sexy, eccentric, and charming without ever straying into corny or blatantly anthemic territory. However, if “String Theory” is suited to a “refreshed” WMC pool party, then “Tension Point” brings proceedings firmly back to a sparse Dalston basement. Not too dark, but certainly a harsher flipside, the tune evokes vivid chemical memories of recent Boddika, Addison Groove, Pearson Sound et al. Thudding kicks, reverb, and 808 abound while a lone male voice intones “I need to get away from all this tension.” This is no straight hackneyed play-off however — the rising synth swells and unusual syncopation ensure that atmospherics and adrenaline are evenly balanced.
A Legowelt remix is always an intriguing prospect. In this instance he remains faithful to the main hook of “String Theory,” albeit capping the energy levels slightly in favor of a more introspective and spacey exploration. It should also be noted that this is unusually slick stuff for Danny Wolfers: each element sits perfectly, and the mixdown is seriously loud and crunchy. Under his Polarius guise he injects a moody and sinister vibe through droning synths and ominous reverb — a brooding and straight-up techno workout that caps proceedings very well, indeed. If October has often been a difficult artist to pin down, his music has almost always displayed maturity and reach. This EP adds to a fine catalog with some of his most dexterous work so far, displaying vigorous and fine-tuned balance that is deeply engaging.