Enigmatic Brussels-based duo Suumhow have gone to considerable lengths to conceal their identities, and as a result this debut album ‘Crash_Reports’ arrives on Oakland’s n5MD accompanied by minimal contextual information. Whatever the case, the nine tracks collected here see Suumhow crafting a homage to classic IDM influences, and indeed you could describe ‘Crash_Reports’ as being indicative of n5MD’s signature sound, with harsh rhythms intersecting with glacial synths and fluttering glitch elements.
From the corrupted data-themed sleeve art and title, through to deliberately sterile titles such ‘.4’ and ‘Cetii’, all of the accompanying hallmarks of the genre are certainly in place here. While Suumhow clearly aren’t interested in rewriting the established IDM rulebook though, there’s an impressive attention to care and detail being wielded here that sees them managing to conjure up beguiling atmospheres.
Beatless opening track ‘.4’ calls to mind the sonic equivalent of a miniature snow globe as frigid trails of wind swirl like flickering data storms against tranquil ebbing synths, the blend of repeating elements inducing a deep sense of calm in what’s easily one of the most ambient moments here. ‘Brus L’ meanwhile sees jagged and distorted broken rhythms and digitally contorted background vocal mutters adding an itchy sense of uneasiness to the dewy circuit-bent melodies that float in the foreground, with the likes of Proem and Arovane particularly popping up as comparison points.
Elsewhere, ‘Dunningkruger’ hardens the fractured rhythms into harsh snaps as detuned synth chords cast a blurry haze in the background against flexing glitchy crackles, the entire track seeming to slide out into iciness as the ebbing melodic elements start to slow to a crawl, before ‘Small Sky’ unfurls one of this album’s most spectacular moments, the counterpointing fusion of harsh scraping rhythms and blissfully delicate synth arrangements representing the most convincing marriage of disparate textures that Suumhow achieve here. While these are IDM roads that have been well travelled by now, in this case the pleasure is in the journey more than the destination.