Lithe is the production alias of Melbourne-based electronic producer Kyle Setch, and this five track EP ‘Fervent Gum’ (available as either a cassette or digital download) offers up his debut as well as the second release for new Australian label Enhancer Records. Apparently inspired by the arid Australian landscapes Setch encountered during his journey relocating from Townsville to Melbourne, the five tracks collected here immediately reveal his background as a drummer, with digitally manipulated live drum performances providing much of this EP’s robust rhythms. There’s also a distinct emphasis upon dark shades, with the use of industrial-edged percussive elements contributing to the sense of rising tension.
‘Lockout’ sees things opening tentatively as a female voice robotically intones the title against the repetitious sound of CD skipping, before icy melodic notes begin to build up into an eerie web against flurries of hand percussion and vast bass drops. It’s certainly an effective scene setter, and from there ‘Locals’ sends things wandering off into the darkness as staccato volleys of drums lurk at the edges, the centre of the stereo field becoming a battle ground for vast reverberating industrial sheet metal crashes, eerily cycling bleeps, and harsh, twitchy synth sequences, the electronics stuttering like a powerline as things accelerate off into the distance atop a backbone of muscular live drum breaks.
If the aforementioned track calls to mind some murderous meeting point between Amon Tobin and Cut Hands, ‘Girmayi’ sees things becoming slightly more graceful and elegantly arranged as a chiming thumb piano-like melody threads its way through dense tribal polyrhythms and dark, dubbed-out stabs, only for the beats to drop out entirely as walls of sheeny synths and burbling sequences suddenly rise up and reach for the horizon against the call of distant sirens. Elsewhere, ‘Hume’ changes the mood entirely, evoking meditative journeys along the Australian highway of the title, as slowly chiming guitar chords echo out over a backdrop of ambient drones and distantly rippling piano arpeggios, only for propulsive motorik rhythms and shimmering synths to suddenly reach up, sending things gliding off in what’s easily this EP’s most serene and contemplative moment. An extremely impressive EP from Lithe – it’s not often that you find debut releases as fully formed as this one.