London-based electronic producer Lloyd Whittle apparently spent his childhood shuttling between homes in London and on the Isle Of Wight, and this self-titled debut EP under his Compton White alias (originally released last year on Sweetboys and now relaunched on Tri Angle) definitely captures the duality of those extremes. Indeed, there are often sharp shifts in mood between the seven tracks collected here, which range from more jagged post-grime bass workouts through to laidback pastoral atmospheres.
If there’s one uniting quality to the tracks, it’s that they’re all anchored in beat-driven hiphop structures, but within those parameters there’s certainly some wide territory being covered here. ‘Track 2’ opens this EP with its most wide-eyed and delicate moment as a laidback drum groove that calls to mind the likes of Bonobo wanders amidst treated vocal harmonies, airy phased electronics and refracted sounding synth textures, before smooth bluesy guitar bends rise into the foreground, the beats shuffling and stuttering as sampled childrens voices count down from ten in the background.
If it opens this collection on a gentle and slightly whimsical note, ‘Hounslow’ changes the pace entirely as dark bass wobbles surge against clicking trap snares, thudding MPC-punched kicks and eerie whirring synths, the entire track seemingly to wind itself up into a clenched fist before fracturing itself into a mass of arrhythmic tics, the spooky reversed RNB vocal that closes proceedings adding to the sense of queasy disorientation. Elsewhere, ‘Van’ takes things out into stark gleaming surfaces as industrial edged beats ricochet against a vast spacious backdrop of gleaming synths and cut-up pitch-shifted samples, the sudden lurch forward into unpredictable rhythms and dark bass distortion calling to mind ‘Garden Of Delete’-era Oneohtrix or Arca.
‘Mainland’ traverses similar terrain as sudden rhythmic noise bursts intersect with airy ambient pads and bright yet cold electronics, vast, almost orchestrally stacked synth bass adding a sense of brooding menace as it cuts through the mix, before Canadian producer Jean Michel Blais’ remix rebuilds the entire track from the ground up as a classical piano arrangement, bringing the emphasis back onto the delicate melodies that lurk beneath the original track’s more forbidding textures. An impressive debut EP that marks Compton White as a name to watch.