Ylem – Urban Grey (The Community Records/Paper Chain)

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Ylem - Urban Grey

The Western Australian experimental beats scene has thrived in the west, but its only now we hear rumblings on local shores in the east, with a spate of tours, and people finally switching on to the aurally satisfying sounds from the west. Ylem is one of those figures at The Community that has been tirelessly promoting dubstep and bass music in and around Perth for the last two years, through promotion of dubstep events, and local radio, with a string of EP’s, digital releases, and further experiments emanating from his Soundcloud page. When I first heard his dubstep productions I was blown away by the originality, the depths of sub-bass he has achieved, and the world standard production. With his debut album he has returned to his roots of more electronic trip-hop sounds, and its more than a pleasant surprise.

Intricate atmospheric sounds are layered and carefully mixed to provide the space the sounds need to breath, creating mesmerizing rhythms and textures, yet with a playful undertone that hints to a character that loves what he does. Ylem injects a futuristic funk vibe to the soundscapes, with tracks heavy on synth washes, yet achieving an organic sound, you could easily image this sound performed live, like a full band breaking down Autechre tunes for a stage show…

Predominantly short and sweet tracks, never letting the listener settle in one place for too long, directing ones imagination to other worlds quickly passing by… “Fragmented” nods back to Autechre, with an overtly artificial intelligence slant, intricately ticking rhythms underpinned by pulsing electronics. “Roll The Dice” has a disjointed swagger, with a healthy use of echo and effects, staying true to the beat, avoiding the current trend to make everything sound wonky. “Don’t Test” takes a dubstep half-step and flips the synth layering, otherworldly evocative soundscapes. “Incomplete Dream” and “Gone” make sound references to the playfulness of producers like Luke Vibert, while “Vapour Trail” brings the rhythm back to sharply quantized mechanics.

A fine debut release for Ylem. My only criticism is his versatility is barely demonstrated on this release. Watch Ylem for bigger things.

Wayne Stronell

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