Moiré – Shelter
Label: Werk DiscsScore: 8/10
Moiré’s debut album – and his third release – for Darren ‘Actress’ Cunningham’s avant-garde label Werk Discs, is an enthralling, nouvelle vague journey through greyscale techno and wonky electronics, that is both captivating in its design and elegantly rough shod in its execution. Its dark excursion into the steampunk unknown starts from the off with opening number ‘Attitude’ setting the template and tone that the rest of the album mournfully follows – disembodied, floating kicks drums uniting with shadowy atmospherics and indecipherable sample sources.
The pitched-down, gloopy, bass heavy productions are sure to gain comparison with Actress himself – I don’t think it is a secret that the fairly anonymous Moiré is and has been influenced by his patron – but I also see shades of producers such as Andy Stott whose influence looms heavily over the slow-mo club beats, as well as shades of Dalhaus and even at points, smidgens of Theo Parrish.
The album isn’t so experimental as to be undanceble however, with driving, bouncy cuts like the Bones riddled ‘Dali Sounds’ taking the Faithless template of spoken word house into stripped back, rusty and well-worn territories. Sure the kicks are wonky and off the grid, yet the tunes’ low ends, although smudged, do not fully descend into muddy or boxy territory as evidenced on superb, almost uplifting organic tinged numbers such as closer ‘Mr Fingers’, a lovingly rendered dubtech tune, or the majestic ‘Infinity Shadows’, a deceptively maximal tune that teases its respective elements in and out of its superb arrangement like a master craftsman.
The hi-hats are crusty, but crisp enough to cut through the hazy, muggy soundscapes of tunes like ‘Elite’ and ‘Hands On’ – the albums’ slow-burning, emotionally affecting Hazyville-esq centrepiece or the heavily arpeggiated dreamscapes of ‘No Gravity’. The drums drive the tracks forward in a streamlined fashion, with tunes like the weirdly, fascinating ‘Stars’ resolving its stomping dancefloor friendly nature around what sounds like a 1950s swing record’s repeating, rhythmical vocal sample, that breaks down in an extremely bizarre and off-beat pad based fashion. In essence, design and construction, the whole album is pleasing to both dancers and headphone jockeys alike. Whether you could mix it though is a different question entirely.
The album as mentioned is superb in its morose cogent nature, with the tunes slipping deftly into other in terms of sound palette and mood – the atmosphere created, generally of longing and nostalgia and good yet clouded memories. There are however moments of pure creeping menace evidenced by penultimate number ‘Rings’ a tune that utilises a spider like, rubbery bassline, with sci-fi drones hits and horror movies string samples playing off against and alongside the tortured, heavily effected vocals of Charlie Tappin.
The spectre of the London bass music scene and the history that proceeds it is clearly on show throughout the album also: the general feeling of dread present , the skippy nods to UK garage and the heavily reverberated tips of the hat to dubstep on a few of the beats, atop the heavily, smoke addled soundscapes all add to the uniqueness of Moiré’s sound. The subdued reese like bass on ‘Attitude’ shows its respect to the city’s jungalist and DnB past and the album’s rubbery basslines and simple toned synth lines pay homage to hardcore’s sweaty, techno leaning beginnings.
All things said, Shelter is an extremely well thought out, well-executed slab of shadowy British dance music and one of my favourite albums released so far this year. And at only 18 months into his career, Moiré can only get better right?