Published Nov 04, 2019With his debut album on CPU only eight months behind him, relative newcomer 96 Back (real name Evan Majumdar-Swift) returns to the reliable label for his Issue in Surreal EP, another darkly florid electro workout that should please fans of his previous work. Padded out with some worthwhile remixes from the likes of Happa & Jabes and Volruptus, it makes for a solid package.
Opener "Knock Out" has the aggressive energy its title suggests, starting the EP off confidently with a slapping beat, threatening swells and a twisted synth line that only reveals its true bleepy nature in the track's final moments. That said, it's probably the least interesting thing on the release, overshadowed immediately by second cut "My Time Here," which introduces a mournful melody only to explode it into a startlingly complex set of competing leads in the first minute. Its elements are frenetic and intricate enough that Majumdar-Swift can safely spend the rest of the track simply managing their comings and goings without boring us. "Typeface 333" treads similar ground, exploring a simple melody via a seemingly endless supply of squelched-up variations.
Of the remixes, Jensen Interceptor fails to make "Knock Out" much more interesting, giving it a pounding, minimalist house overlay that's fine, but not particularly striking. Happa & Jabes, on the other hand, bravely forgo the melodic intricacies of "My Time Here" in favour of a not unpleasant washed-out approach that unexpectedly ends with a lush, hands-in-the-air trance moment that's one of the best spots on the EP. Efforts from Sync 24 and Volruptus are worth your time also, the latter diverting the originally buoyant "Typeface 333" down an unexpectedly dark byway in its second half.
Those still grooving on Majumdar-Swift's debut (Excitable Girl was released in March) may not necessarily need to pounce on Issue in Surreal right away, but if you're hungry for more from the Manchester, UK-based up-and-comer, there's enough artistic growth here to justify a spin, especially in its aggressive treatment of melody. A worthy companion-piece to an already promising debut. (CPU Records)