[sic] Magazine

Akranes – Shadows EP

If there are physical shadows to be found on Akranes’ EP of the same name, they’re the ones cast by lonely clouds that patrol otherwise bright skies. One such mass of precipitation follows Hebden Bridge native Liam Gaunt’s every move, coating his downbeat electro with a cool drizzle of effects and distortion. Shadows will be released on cassette soon via Ramber Records and it’s presented as two ten-minute mixes, one per side, A and B nevertheless parsed by track demarcation. Each commences with ambient instrumentals, treated keys leading to clapping percussion and the woozy swagger of something like cloud rap. On 2015’s mid-tempo Lungs EP, Gaunt, previously of the varied Khufu project, played diaphanous vocals off against synthesised piano lines, the effect rippling like dappled sunlight across the release. For the Shadows EP, he’s recruited Ooni Staerck on most tracks and luxurious amounts of echo slathered on her frosty vocal tie it together spectacularly.

Amidst slo-mo beats and sub-bass wobble she hangs in a suspension of Gaunt’s creation, aquatic synths rushing from side to side as he lurches his vessel from dream-pop to trip hop, downbeat neo-R&B to warm glitch-step. Soft beats contrast with abrasive drum compressions, mournful synth and piano soothing and stabbing as appropriate. The standout “easy” freezes you to the spot. Strip out all memory of its overly trancey remixes and even Olive’s 90s classic “You’re Not Alone” is hinted at on “U tke”. Shadows is lonely, late-night stuff all the same. A despondent sample, treated and repeated, extolls the virtues of not being in a loveless relationship at one point, for example, and the poignant reality of having to first be in one to then revel in release is not lost in the slightest. There are shadows in all of us but, perhaps at a metaphysical level, we’re all destined to share the exact same ones. With a trajectory of that certainty it’s only a matter of time until your and Akranes’ paths cross.

Best track: “easy”

Pre-order now at Ramber Records

~The Shadows EP will be released April 22nd 2016 on cassette (with download code) via Ramber Records.~