Since enigmatic Scottish electronic producer CAIN first emerged towards the end of 2013, he’s released a slew of 12” releases on labels including Fine Grains and Highlife, but he’s only just now gotten around to releasing this debut album, the aptly titled ‘The Collection 2014-2019’ on Glasgow label Huntleys & Palmers. Growing up in the Scottish highlands with a background in Celtic music, CAIN’s interest in traditional music from around the world has always manifested itself in his sampling choices, ranging from Indian styles through to Arabic music, samba and Kazakh vocals.
Throughout the 16 tracks collected here, the emphasis falls firmly upon house, with a satisfying rattle almost constantly in evidence amongst the rolling 4/4 kicks and snares. While’s there’s a focus on drawing upon traditional vocal and instrumental elements though, the introduction of colder and more sheeny electronic elements adds a considerably more modernist edge. ‘Cajal’ teases proceedings open gently at first as snake-like Arabic instrumental elements float against clattering percussion and soft-focus keys, the resulting warm fusion inducing a chilled-out sense of glide more than anything else as fluttering keys and bell-like tones play at the very edges of the mix.
‘Tumbl’ kicks the pace up a few notches, sending shuffling samba-house rhythms and rattling cowbells rolling against limber Indian instrumentation, the twanging instrumental runs melting into a more straight-forward broken-house groove as robust 4/4 kickdrums and a rolling bassline lock in against flourishes of dubbed-out female vocals. In this case, it’s the oddly hypnotic layers of phased synths that add an intriguing undercurrent, adding a grittier edge than you might expect to the whole package.
Elsewhere, ‘Atai’ ventures out into Brazilian elements, as buzzing stringed instrumentation clings tightly to an undercarriage of Mr Fingers-esque house rhythms and tumbling synth sequences in what’s easily one of this album’s most peaktime-oriented moments, before ‘Fermion’ gets more low-slung and bass heavy, sending sub-bass rolls surging against rattling broken-beat rhythms while treated vocals and phased keys intersect with a volley of zapping electronics and thundering percussion – indeed, it’s easily one of the most ‘future’ sounding moments on offer here. As debut albums go, this one’s pretty darn tasty.