Saturday, 19 December 2009

10-20 - Lake [Highpoint Lowlife]

Fresh from bigging up Highpoint Lowlife and 10-20 in my Short Circuitry 'summary of the year' thing, more big ups for 10-20's new EP Lake. It's expectedly great.


Highpoint Lowlife wunderkind 10-20’s self-titled debut album looks destined to wonder, delirious and confused, into the upper echelons of this year’s best ‘lost’ records. It’s a shame – his music is certainly worthy of wider appreciation, managing to cram into its awkward, lanky form elements of classic Warp electronica, folksy sampleplay and sudden glimpses of hip-hop influenced swagger. It’s a surprisingly complete record considering it came out of nowhere, marked by a devotion to peculiarly organic textures and claustrophobic closeness that reached its highpoint (heh) in the self-perpetuating ambient whorl of ‘Arcadeagle’. It’s also only four quid from the label’s website, which to these ears makes it the bargain of the year.

Following on from the full-length, he has turned his attention to the ‘Landforms’ series of EPs, beginning with the summer’s Island and now reaching its second installment. I’m not entirely sure to what extent mental projection is responsible, but Lake does sound distinctly more aquatic than its predecessor, each track drowning in limpid lakes of delay and sending hollow ripples outward from each burst of synthetic energy. The crunchy, static-infused ‘Overloam’d’ is certainly the least immediate thing he’s managed to craft yet, drawing attention to brief melodic flashes that burst suddenly outward to stain its greyscale backing in deepest green.

Out of the four tracks here, ‘Endzone’ is probably closest in spirit to his earlier work. With each release his fascination with texture over colour has become more pronounced, resulting in the hypnotic double blow of ‘Boat’ and ‘GolgothA’, both of which prioritise subtle shifts in pace and structure to create disorienting sonic environments in which to wonder. In this sense, 10-20 shares at least a little in common with sound installation artists – in particular a fascination with the structural integrity and architectural potential of music – but his sense of narrative arc remains a defining feature. These are still pieces, with defined temporal development, a beginning, middle and end, and are all the better for it. Roll on the subsequent landforms.

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