Ecstatic Records is an entity to represent currency in electronic music today. The two producers responsible and recognisable in their own right Sam Willis and Alessio Natalia (who together make up Walls) an underground electronic musical pairing themselves initially signed to Kompakt have been blessed to have the strength of the revered germanic label supporting them. Not withstanding there is no doubt that Sam and Alessio know quality and class when they hear it and so it follows that any act initiated into the Ecstatic Records family is going to wow.
For it’s a great thing when two mad skilled producers such as Willis and Natalia combine business brains to give birth to a label project that is focused principally on unearthing their level of talent in others and showcasing the ‘best in class’ electronica that the UK has to offer. It’s not surprising then to find that their latest label release does exactly that.
London based producer: Richard Smith performing under moniker L/F/D/M, delivers us something unique and complex in its approach.
Curiously Smith arrived at the title for the album: M is a Shape by accident. After attempts to develop an all encompassing symbol of artwork to accompany his music he soon realised that what he’d created was in fact quite remarkably a shape – the mere letter m.
“The title comes from a time when I was producing all these collages, abstracting a theme, trying to get it down to the perfect motif, the perfect shape that summed up exactly what I’m trying to get across and then just when I got there I kinda stepped back and was like; oh it’s just a fucking M!
The same M that if I had looked at it a month before I would have perhaps only saw the letter and not the shape, that always interested me; the starting point at where you come to an image, one day something can just really catch you off guard.“
Smith’s release is not only magnificently melodic, it’s technically astute and demonstrates clever craftsmanship for meshing, layering and building toward atonal hazey industrial techno tracks. ‘Black Shadows’ at 6mins is a stand out track where the the benefit of Smith’s prior collabs is illustrated. A track that fuses synth and grinding hypnotic drone must surely be attributable in part to 2014 releases via Diagonal Records. These done in partnership with the ‘industrial whizkid’ Dominic Butler of Factory Floor fame were perhaps what prepared him for the musical landscape Smith now nestles independent and comfortably in.
Certainly the final track on the album ‘2040’ is a departure from what is generally categorised as a menagerie of cloudy industrial vignettes but for me is where Smith manages to catch me off guard – M is a shape and in this instance, it’s beautiful. Reminiscent of Gold Panda’s style and sounds this track is the surprising final curtain and leaves the listener in a heightened state of audible pleasure .
Overall the album is fantastic food for thought, an offering that is indicative of the futuristic post-minimal matchings coming out of the UK presently.