King Midas Sound & Fennesz – Edition 1 (Instrumentals) (Ninja Tune / Inertia)

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As if UK-based electronic producer Kevin Martin hadn’t already spoiled us enough with last year’s stunning ‘Angels & Devils’ album as The Bug and its accompanying stream of companion EPs that continued into this year, last month’s stunning ‘Edition 1’ album as King Midas Sound alongside Austrian guitarist / electronic producer Fennesz saw him kicking off what promises to be a series of four collaborative albums, each alongside a different, as yet unnamed artist. More than anything else, the tracks contained on ‘Edition 1’ represented a substantial step away from the ghostly, stripped down lovers rock explored on preceding KMS albums, with the fusion of Fennesz’s ambient guitar textures, Martin’s often minimalist production and the vocal input of regular collaborators Kiki Hitomi and Roger Robinson taking things off into considerably more widescreen, yet desolate territory.

As its title suggests, this LP-only release ‘Edition 1 (Instrumentals)’ offers up an instrumental companion piece that if anything showcases the ghostly heart lurking at the centre of this collection even more, bringing the isolationist yet lulling interweave of Martin and Fennesz’s gorgeous backdrops into full focus. Indeed, there are frequently points where this feels like a completely different album to its parent collection, such are the emphases shifted to different places simply through the removal of the vocal tracks. ‘Mystery Version’ opens proceedings in comparatively gentle territory as Fennesz’s looped guitar chords ebb away against crackling digital detritus, the glitchy textures gradually resolving themselves into a skeletal rhythmic pulse as bright synth trails bleed into focus.

If it’s a suitably lulling and oceanically drifting entry point to this collection, ‘Mind Version’ sees the more edgy rhythms coming to the fore as snapping dub / dancehall beats power against lurking swells of sub-bass and gaseous layers of droning distorted synths, the towering background arrangements adding a sense of widescreen atmosphere to the swaggering snare rolls. ‘Leaving Version’ meanwhile sees rattling snares and dark bass synths locking into a coldly robotic groove against a claustrophobic backdrop of distant ringing harmonics and swirling pads, before ‘Above Water’ offers up this collection’s most spectral centrepiece, slowly building up an almost aching sense of spacious melancholy over its expansive thirteen minutes. A stunning instrumental companion collection that alongside its parent album easily slides into my top five albums of 2015.

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