It’s been thirteen years since Bristol-based electronic producer Laurie Osborne released his first track as Appleblim ‘Mystikal Warrior’ on the legendary Skull Disco label that he helmed alongside Shackleton, but he’s only just finally gotten around to releasing this debut album ‘Life In A Laser’. While he was initially associated with dubstep as a key player at London’s FWD>> nights, it wasn’t long before Osborne found himself veering away from that genre’s increasingly restrictive structures.
That said, if there’s one constantly recurring theme to be found on the nine tracks collected here, it’s the presence of deep sub-bass. Perhaps most poignantly there’s a feeling of deep nostalgia to be found on much of the music here, with these tracks paying homage to the ghosts of classic warehouse raves and jungle as much as they do more future-facing bass music. It’s a connection further enabled by Osborne’s penchant for using samples and synths as stabs in his productions, evoking flashbacks to far more RAM-restricted hardware days.
The opening title track alone showcases the breadth of styles and influences being packed into a single track as electro zaps gather momentum against a backdrop of snapping breakbeats and deep rolling sub-bass, the flanged out synth wobbles that take the foreground during the track’s second half calling to mind the rave era likes of Altern8 and 808 State as the metallic snares trace out intricate rhythms beneath.
‘I Think We’ll Let The Gas Sort Them Out’ meanwhile wanders out into abstracted garage structures, the scissoring two-step kicks and blocky bass pads breaking down into a wash of nostalgic spoken samples from some veteran junglist reminiscing about the old days, before locking straight back into position and sending the track back on its way amidst a spectral trail of background ambience.
Elsewhere, the tense and tightly wired ‘NCI’ makes the homage to classic jungle most explicit as rattling breakbeats interlock and flex against melodic stabs and washes of sheeny synth atmosphere, the crash into furiously contorted Amen breaks at the end calling to mind early Squarepusher, before the cascading ‘Flows From Within’ takes things out into jittery and abstracted breakbeat futurism that pits wavering 8-bit synths against seismic bass wobbles. An excellent debut album from Appleblim that already feels like one of 2018’s more significant releases.