[sic] Magazine

espher – explosions in technicolour

Music is nothing save ordered and processed sound, silence and human error, where present, included. Manchester-based producer Ben Pearson, aka espher, fully embraces the notion, emblazoning his online presence with the aphorism that “Imperfections are … beauty, accidental flaws sequenced.” Recorded live earlier this year, explosions in technicolour is espher’s fourth EP since late 2014 and, accordingly, there remains a surface noise to its production. Programmes are avoided in favour of imprecise patterns tapped out by fingers. Urban field recordings breathe precarious life into his atmospheric beats. And, yet, explosions in technicolour comes with a caveat. “It is a line in the sand, my past and the future,” espher explains enigmatically. As such, it’s a culmination of his intense material to date, but now his music shimmers with emotional depth too, elegant and spacious textures bolstered by hints of Balearic chill, the ghost of piano-line house, as well as maudlin, pitch-shifted R&B.

Over eight beautiful tracks, two of which could perhaps be considered interludes, espher builds explosions in technicolour like the rollercoaster sound-board capture it is. Side A first lurches and snaps with impressively full techno composition, the crisp and harsh combination of synth pulses and high-end key repeats coming hand-in-hand with prettier chime work. A thick and steady beat then crawls out of the standout “to the sky” on which an enveloping vocal sample emerges from the vapours of a wispy synth breakdown to point to espher’s profitable schooling in the likes of Jon Hopkins. Introduced by the blackened waters of the aptly shadowy “(goya)”, the side closes out with a series of stark compressions rendered indistinct by fierce sunshine and relaxed mid-tempos, a chaotic finish obliterating an earlier balance of bliss and carefully calculated triumph built on similar ground to that of Baths.

On the flip, the slo-mo “you are loved” unfolds like a melancholy lullaby, flickering sounds sounding like rapid thumbing through a weighty novel or a solitary bat caught in the rafters. This passage of soothing ambience is all too quickly broken on subsequent tracks by the arrival of deep electronic pulses that, appropriately given a title of “(mir)”, in turn give way to a chilly bout of stargazing and improvised, Nils Frahm-esque ivory tickling. Vibrant to the last, and perhaps most deserving of being subsumed under the name explosions in technicolour, the menacing “sacrifice” blossoms deliciously from bottom-end Bass to a skittering post-step sunrise. It’s the sort of track taken from the sort of EP that has the potential to springboard espher skywards. Take into account the rumours of a forthcoming LP, too, and espher may be heading stratospheric.

Best track: “to the sky”

~explosions in technicolour will be released September 16th 2016 on cassette via Ramber Records. Download included.~

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