The Chain, Lostwithiel EP

[R&S Records]

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There are few better ways to summarize the recent trajectory of R&S Records than examining the brief discography of The Chain. In part that’s because Dan Foat, one half of the duo (Nathan Boddy being the other), has managed the storied label’s A&R department since its 2008 relaunch. R&S’ shift towards UK house and bass music is also mirrored in the differences between The Chain’s debut single and their second release, the Lostwithiel EP. Where they embraced big room, melodic tech-house on 2009’s Letting Go/Geo, their latest shares the forward thinking thrust of recent R&S signings Blawan, Untold and James Blake.

The EP offers scant evidence of Foat and Boddy’s half decade spent making and DJing house music under various guises beyond its impeccable construction. “Lostwithiel” binds together nerve-jangling strumming and lunging drum patterns with grand woodwind flourishes and sugary accent tones. The taut, bittersweet juxtaposition of organic and synthetic elements offers a view into what it might sound like if Mount Kimbie went pop. The “Dub” is gaunt and disquieting, its tones stretched backwards over dry percussion in a manner more typical of contemporary bass music. But the record’s most exhilarating cut is its closer, the relentlessly upbeat “Maje.” You can practically feel yourself being pressed into your chair while it piles battering drums atop nagging melodies and sirens, as if you’ve taken off in a rave rocket fueled by ecstasy. If the excellent Lostwithiel EP is indicative of where Foat plans to take R&S, strap me in.

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