Since the mid nineties, UK-based electronic producer Ed Upton has consistently remained one of the most prolific figures operating amongst the electronic music scene, to the point where this latest album ‘Glad To Be Sad’ (his first since 2017’s ‘Strange Directions’) offers up his 22nd longplayer in total.
Longtime DMX Krew fans will already have a good idea of what to expect with this latest collection, and indeed two decades into his career, Upton has craved out his own niche, splicing electro elements with this sort of synths that you’d associate with vintage BBC documentaries or educational films and TV advertising. In this case though, it’s the title that’s the big giveaway- while the majority of the 12 tracks collected here are composed from bright primary colours, there’s an underlying undertone of melancholy often present here.
‘Shell Game’ opens proceedings with one of the most gorgeous pieces of ambient IDM that I’ve heard from DMX in some time, as delicate crystalline synth arrangements twinkling against deep brooding bass chords in a manner that calls to mind the likes of Plaid more than anything else. ‘Mystic Revelation’ meanwhile takes things off on a spooky electro-house ride through acid squeals, bouncy 4/4 kickdrums and eerie horror movie background atmospheres that evokes associations with late 90s Rephlex, before ‘Metal Mod Beat’ unleashes a shower of clattering distorted metallic rhythms, the slamming industrial beats offering a sharp counterpoint to the ambient melodies that float and swell behind them.
Elsewhere, ‘MR10stery’ offers up one of this album’s biggest dancefloor stormers, fusing vampy electro synths to a house-fuelled undercarriage of slick handclaps and phased acid squelches, before ‘Winter Dance’ closes this collection with a classic dive into DMX synth kitsch, ushering the sorts of bright eight-bit synth arrangements you’d associate with cheesy eighties TV ads, or perhaps even particularly garish hold music. As always, there’s sense of DMX rifling through the electro / synth landfill of the last four decades with abandon, and in this case his wild experimentation continually hits the mark.