[sic] Magazine

espher – Ultraviolet

Last year’s superb espher EP, explosions in technicolour, came with a caveat. “It is a line in the sand, my past and the future,” Manchester producer Ben Pearson explained. It was a culmination of his atmospheric material to date, shimmering with new-found emotional depth too, elegant and spacious textures bolstered by hints of Balearic chill, the ghost of piano-line house and digitally manipulated R&B. And, after a hot run of four such EPs since 2014, the much anticipated ULTRAVIOLET LP is now finally here. A decadent 50 minutes in length, it has no intention of ripping up the template, but – beat for beat – every intention of bettering it.

ULTRAVIOLET’s beauty is everywhere: in its pin-drop piano motifs, its dreamy vocal captures and its melting chimes. So too in its rich, complex patterning and its aquatic synth-work, wave upon wave of instrumentation seeking unsuccessfully to erode a solidly stoic core. ULTRAVIOLET is consequently a strikingly downtempo collection with pronounced mood swings. Cutting-edge bliss and soft-focus vocal treatment create a numbing chemical haze that leads to cinematic vistas, fractured house elsewhere fabricating disorientating collages of found-sound and sun-bleached ambience. At the other end of the spectrum, a track like “Sufi” forgets its meds completely and gets straight to the point with deep and sustained stabs of dirty house.

Many of Pearson’s thicker beats throb instead with the sound of electrical charge, Tesla-fired coils surging with energy alongside his toy-box of ticking, clicking FX and spacey, stereo-scanning synths. These gleefully slice through the bottom end of the spectacular “Orchid” (take a listen below), lush electronica made for the outdoors rather than the early hours, its big budget breakdown so clean and open you’re gonna need sunglasses to deal with it more than once. Equally luxuriant, the knock-out 8-minute opener “Zenith” deploys sombre swoops of MIDI strings alongside skittering pad-work, crisp techno fizzing at its extremes while snap-crack blasts and an aggressive stutter stand the track to attention at its midpoint, its surging, symphonic climax a real touch of classiness.

ULTRAVIOLET doesn’t develop this sound fully enough to be considered a product purely of the tech/house school and yet neither does it dwell long enough in straight electronic programming to entirely appease those with an aversion to anything else – see the tender minimalism of “Mångata” and its huge vocal for a divisive case in point. What you have then is simply an album ripe for the crossover market. How precisely has Pearson gone about upping his game from good to great then? Well, it seems he’s started looking at things in a different light: an ULTRAVIOLET light, it turns out.

Best track:

~ULTRAVIOLET is released July 21st 2017 in digital formats and on Ramber Records on cassette (with download). Each cassette copy also comes with an individual 55x55mm artwork.~