Shape Worship, Observances EP

[Exotic Pylon]

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Observances marks an ambitious debut from Shape Worship — a richly emotive and textured EP, shot through with wistful melancholy and anchored by muscular beats. Garage and techno — the former, in particular — are the most obvious structural reference points, but Shape Worship also demonstrates an aptitude for dense cut-and-paste sampling, which often comes at surprisingly angular junctures. Dusky 2-step forms the backbone here, but don’t let that put you off. The past few years have thrown up any number of increasingly flimsy Mount Kimbie-ites, this is, thankfully, not one of them. For starters, the grip on melodic progression is startlingly assured — these six tracks unfold with an epic dramatic tension. Check “Quilt,” where shimmering pads give way to an all too brief oriental harp sample, perfectly placed feedback, and beefy subs. Fantastic stuff.

Elsewhere, “Air White Smoke Signal” offers darker vibes — discordant piano stabs offset against bruised percussion and masterfully skewed bass tones. Not all is enthralling however: the anemic, beatless interlude, “Seaglass” is totally unnecessary on a six-tracker, while “Lavender” sits firmly on the wrong side of polite coffee-table fodder. That said, there is no shortage of rather excellent material here. Perhaps best of all is “Mzungu” — a low-lit epic that evokes images of dusky 19th-century opium dens with its oriental phrasing and all-enveloping subs. Exotic Pylon, a label run by Jonny Mugwump that’s more often the home of leftfield exotica, is by no means the most obvious imprint for this kind of fare, so here’s hoping a debut EP of such obvious and abundant electronic quality will not slip under radar. Fans of R&S, Apollo, 2009/10-era Hotflush and Frijsfo Beats will want to be checking this — a debut of adventurous promise.

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