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Eskmo Eskmo Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

A hotter property than that chilly moniker might immediately imply.

Adam Kennedy 2010

In both the US and UK, the west coast has geographically wrestled control of an ever-expanding universe billowing from the post-dubstep mushroom cloud. This side of the Atlantic, Bristol edges ascendancy. The latest to step up to the plate from an already regal line of Californian kings, meanwhile, is San Francisco-based soloist Brendan ‘Eskmo’ Angelides.

There are certain touches of déjà vu here. Large swathes of 1990s electronica shifted attention away from aiming crosshairs solely at the dancefloor with not dissimilar sonic results. Yet in blurring divides between man and machine, Angelides’s subtleties take this self-titled debut album at least partially striding into the unknown.

Opening gambit Cloudlight forges a distinctive modus operandi, pitching electrifyingly enveloping production in perfect tandem with Angelides’s own mechanised vocals. The influence of one early Eskmo supporter, nomadic soundscapist/labelmate Amon Tobin, is audible inside 15 seconds, spindly eggshell-cracking static snaking across otherwise virgin land.

It’s not all plain sailing toward fresh territory, however: for one, it’s tricky to ignore that We Got More’s weirdly propulsive grind owes an industrial-sized debt to the misanthropic atmospherics of Nine Inch Nails. And with We Have Invisible Friends (Washed Mix), Angelides nods somewhat reverentially toward influential dubstepper Pinch’s underwater dancehall, dragged under by its relentless house-evoking currents.

There are more obscure resemblances, too. Anybody familiar with instances where Canadian breakcore enfant terrible Venetian Snares has taken a microphone to his ordinarily instrumental hell-storm may see parallels in Become Matter Soon, For You.

Gladly, Angelides’s disturbingly disconnected vocal slant fares rather better as the record progresses. Gold & Stone builds to a menacingly murky lollop, refractions of harmonic lyrical light permeating the darkness. That’s followed by My Gears Are Starting to Tremble, a skeletal concluding vignette stark enough to warrant renaming to My Ears Are Starting to Tremble.

Angelides may not make good on the initial promise of Cloudlight’s fearless boundary pushing across the album’s entirety, then. There is, though, sufficient mind-melting invention here – prior reference points or otherwise – to render Eskmo a hotter property than that chilly moniker might immediately imply.

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