Review: Skudge – Phantom

Label: Skudge Records
Catalog#: SKUDGE LP01

A1: Ursa Major
A2: In Between
A3: Sandblast
B1: Eleven
B2: Downtown
B3: Vanisher
C1: Realtime
C2: Pressure Drop
C3: Blackout
D1: Shivers
D2: Phantom
D3: Modular Storm

Buy here

Recommended!

Even Skudge can not avoid the fact, that depth in the kind of sound they pursue lies within a structure above what at first might seem as dance floor tracks; paying a lot of attention to the tracks, getting the sounds to go into each other with perfection and to put them into the analogue expression of not only the equipment used, but also through the tape recorder, Skudge manages to achieve something that is more unclear than what has been said about ‘Phantom’ already.

‘Phantom’ shows the best of its strength in the ambient pieces, the details trapped between the beat structures and the progression in the tracks. An experiment in removing the beats in all of the tracks would simply showcase their ear for what is simply defined as techno, rather than trying to aim directly to the dancefloor—although Skudge manages to aim with precision and delivers in that field as well.

Combining the two; creating tracks that are meant for the floor as well as setting a mood for an atmosphere reminiscent to areas far below the earth, Skudge sums up a lot of ambition and dedication to their journey this far.

The album sums up Skudge’s previous work in a interesting way. It does resemble a lot to their B sides of their EP releases, but there is not a single track that goes into the direction of the sound they became most famous for—the A sides. A interesting, but more importantly, bold move. By creating a album dedicated to a deeper sound in which they always have been going for, Skudge manages to explain more of their sound in this album than all the A sides from previous EP releases combined.

The diversity in each and every track lies in the details. Splitting them up one by one may seem as they follow each other in a quite static way, but the truth is that they are meant to be viewed, and listened to as a whole. Highlighting differences between the tracks is hard when Skudge has established themselves soundwise, but ‘Phantom’ doesn’t require this in order to stand out.

The most important aspect of the LP lies somewhere in between the functionality and style. This aspect comes into the clear with ‘Realtime’, a track with its steadyset mood and attitude creates a penetrating track that has a strict framework in which it moves around freely—something fans of Skudge will recognize and take in.

The highlight of the album, except the brilliant ambient material, is in ‘Pressure Drop’. A track that is so static in its progression that it tickles just in the right places. The sounds that feel in a way misplaced fits perfectly in the secure groove, as it creates a utterly unique experience. Especially under the feet of the right crowd.

Even though a few tracks have been balancing on the edge of going into a more haunting direction, ‘Shivers’ feels almost as a visual experience and surely falls over. Stabbing synthwork that at first might feel a bit uneasy, makes perfect sense as the track digs into itself through the pads that surrounds the rest of it, in a perfect way, making it extremely mesmerizing and that unexplainable weirdness feel more natural than ever.

My favorite tracks:

Blackout

Pressure Drop

Shivers

Modular Storm

Thanks to E&G for this release.

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