Rings Around Saturn – Rings Around Saturn (Brokntoys)


Melbourne-based electronic producer Rory McPike is also known for his work under aliases such as Bleekman, 2200 and Pickleman, and while it arrives self-titled, this latest album on London label Brokntoys offers up his third longplayer as Rings Around Saturn since he emerged under the name in 2015. There’s a balance between more dancefloor-centred and more downtempo territory, with the eleven tracks collected here primarily inhabiting an IDM-electro space that occasionally veers off into more ambient terrain.

There’s also a distinctly retro-gazing feel to many of these tracks, with clattering drum machines powering away alongside analogue synth squelches – indeed, a lot of this album feels more influenced by European New Wave electronics than anything else. Opening track ‘Saturnine’ introduces the spacey feel that permeates beneath a lot of this collection, ushering in an ambient intro segue that sees an undulating synth sequence and glowing pads swelling against a wash of dubbed-out background whispers and squelches, the resulting effect sitting somewhere between beatless krautrock and minimal wave.

From there, ‘Pulp Tech’ sees chunky electro rhythms locking into place against dark EBM-tinged bass synths, while glittering bell-like tones twinkle against stuttering pitch-shifted effects, the track seeming to get snarled up in a mess of its own digital spinbacks at one point before somehow emerging back out the other side. ‘Event Strike’ sees the surging techno rhythms shifting to the forefront as skipping 4/4 snares trace a path beneath ominous wobbling analogue bass, the layers gradually coiling up into a mass of dark prog-techno laced momentum.

Elsewhere, ’World Interior’ whisks the listener off for a sheeny glide through shimmering Detroit-tinged synth arpeggios and glinting pads that suggests early nineties ambient house along the lines of The Orb or Global Communication. While there’s a keen balance between upbeat and downtempo / ambient material here, it’s the tracks where McPike starts to leave the more well-beaten path that really yield the most memorable results, such as the eerie ‘Automatic Memory’, which sees detuned analogue synths being twisted and stretched into new forms against an off-centre, skittering rhythmic groove and walls of ominously wailing electronics. A strong album that’s likely to please headphone groovers and dancefloor movers alike.


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