Hot on the heels of "Flesh Is A Prison" -- the quirky, electronic wonderland he contributed to Cocoon's phenomenal S compilation -- the multi-talented Neil Landstrumm consolidates his position on the label roster with a debut three-track EP that channels the uncompromising spirit of seminal UK labels like Network, Warp, and Vinyl Solution. It's clear from the first few seconds of "Sun Universe" that you're being transported back to '90s UK rave culture at a point where rave, jungle, and house were mutating into speed garage. Ruffness abounds as stuttering snare rolls accompany the rude boy bass, ragga samples and classic "hoover" synth riff, while peripheral sounds circle the groove adding a contemporary twist. Staying true to the times, the arrangement plays it straight, alternating between two distinct structures -- one labeled "jump up" and the other "spread out"! These timely juxtapositions of mood alone mean the track will blow up on any dance floor. "Purple" continues in a similar vein, with a phat, warping bass line underpinning the blunted beats and dusty bleeps. Landstrumm rides the mix in classic old school style, cutting up the linear arrangement with sudden unexpected deviations, alternative rhythms, and layered melodies that lend a hidden complexity to the relentless groove. There's a different energy at work here, one that flies in the face of certain overcooked, modern production techniques, finding more in common with a raw, vintage Carl Cox three deck mix tape, circa 1989. To round things off, "Catnatized" drops the tempo for a slab of grimy, acid funk that recalls the early excursions of Sheffield's electronic pioneers, with a hint of embryonic Amsterdam house thrown in for good measure. Once again, the bass line grabs the headlines, rasping and morphing in its own peculiar language while twisted vocals tease the dance floor with the logic of the absurd.
A1. Sun Universe