iTAL tEK - Mega City Industry EP

iTAL tEK dreams up distracted club-rhythms.

Additional Info

8.2

ALBUM: Mega City Industry EP

ARTIST: iTAL tEK

2014

Electronic

In a bass music scene sometimes dissected along subgenres and recording labels, Brighton-born Alan Myson has eluded anatomical conventions. Leaving dystopian-dubstep realms over the course of his releases with UK label Planet Mu, iTAL tEK (Myson’s alias) became known for his often high-tempo synthesis of cerebral soundscapes and prismatic rhythms, rather than by prominence in any single genre. iTAL tEK is not unfamiliar with the techniques of various scenes, but his musical contours are different: frequently leading to pensive fantasies instead of falling into the sensory-depriving drop preferred by many bass-artists. Thus, his productions can be ideal bedroom listening for those who enjoy the introspective physicality of dance music but don’t necessarily desire to throw their weight around.

iTAL TEK has since signed to Civil Music in London, but continues to transcend the city and its basement clubs even as he siphons its sonic principles. Mega City Industry, his second EP for Civil Music, draws as deeply from the resources of his native drum ‘n’ bass as it does Chicago footwork; yet, the four-track EP thrives on the deconstruction of these patterns and the liquefaction of their concrete forms, melding their elements into yet another of iTAL tEK’s unique phantasmagoric molds. However, the Brighton producer’s newest release is more conscious in balancing the density between his percussive authority and melodic intricacies. He achieves this in part by mediating the color of his animated synths through reverberant spaces and filtered-out frequencies. In this manner, Myron’s tender glissandos and vaporous pads tend to waft over his darker beat-heavy sceneries, serving more of an ambient function than a focal one. This unassuming harmonic motion allows space for the percussions to breathe, which can be a difficult task at these velocities.

The EP therefore finds iTAL tEK gazing out the window, slightly less enamored with the frenetic foot placements on his debut EP for Civil Music, Hyper Real. Fortunately, it is in the atmospheric that Myron does some of his finest work, luring listeners through the wax-and-wane of his tracks with gentle sound-treatment and compositional dynamics. So careful are his movements that one barely notices the changes, becoming swept along its rises and falls. Thus, Mega City Industry has more graduations than steep inclines, and only rarely do listeners get a glimpse of the emphatic tension-release scheme that pervades electronic music. Sometimes though, when the percussions let up on their relentless barrage, the EP weaves into wondrous sound caverns, dripping with lithe notes and echoes. It is there that one feels most rewarded for listening, finding release through serenity. Alas, Myron’s weighty distorted sounds at times lack the richness and detail of these melodic tapestries.

To be clear, dance elements are still abundant in iTAL tEK’s productions. “Universal Decay” uses footwork fibrillations to underpin its cosmic grandeur, whereas “Shinra” focuses on the progression of rifling snares reminiscent of the business of juke 808 rhythms. Yet, both do not completely convey the intensity of club tracks: the former lost in the vastness of deep-space, whilst the latter is set around a protracted half-time groove. Whilst the remaining two cuts do offer more danceable configurations, they too are guilty of slipping into absentminded moments (though the eerie Side B opener, “Swamp Beat,” would fit perfectly into the middle of a gritty set). But being guilty here is not necessarily a bad thing, and the EP was probably never intended to test any sound systems anyways. Admittedly, Myron’s fondness for softening the edges does occasionally lead to homogeneity, and as a result, no single tune really stands out above the rest. However, Mega City Industry as a whole provides an innovative, tastefully-produced aural massage that one can appreciate with or without rapt attention.

“I always enjoy playing tunes that split the club, you can see people raving and people swaying to the same rhythm”

1. Mega City Industry
The title-track contains dub-stabs, reversed snares, and a lurching buzzsaw bass, feeling more like dubstep in its robust half-time groove. Moreover, it borrows from dubstep’s minimalism, that has an introspective effect from its slow rhythmic sway and sustained exposure to bass pressure. Percussive intricacies do boil up for the first drop, but their pace is counteracted by harps and symbals that gradually melt over the song-frame. Beyond that, long hollow notes stretch over desolate plains of bass, leading the mind astray from the rigid kick-snare pattern.8.0
2. Shinra
Arpeggios pedal upwards through the second cut, passing by trickling textures and pattering rhythms. Reminiscent of Four Tet’s frameworks, “Shinra” manages to be overwhelmingly busy while maintaining a serene, meditative quality. With watery pads bubbling in the background, it certainly visits relaxing images though it does not remain there. Myron also uses a crackling half-time snare to mark out a broader space for his frenzied toms, a demonstration of the density manipulation that iTAL tEK has been busy mastering. The arpeggios do get a bit repetitive though, and, for all of its production value, the ear battering is still excessive.7.5
3. Swamp Beat
“Swamp Beat” is the EP’s moodiest-yet-danciest tune, with snippets of jungle and footwork brooding beneath the surface. The track’s percussions are definitely the highlight, that include chimes and other ear-candy to ornament its intelligently-designed choreography. Gaseous chords seep out of these low-slung rhythms, and their refined treatment deserves a listen—to feel a jarring dissonance creep into your bones, if nothing else. The subterranean industrial beat that ensues isn’t as gripping as its introduction promises, but overall this is probably the most well-balanced track on Mega City Industry, infectiously shifting your weight from side to side.8.5
4. Universal Decay
The last track feels expansive, assuming a retro sci-fi perspective to evoke space-exploration. Whether floating in the zero-gravity of Myson’s spacious pads, streaking through cosmic dust with searing vintage synthlines, or undergoing the turbulence of his footwork convulsions and sputtering bassline, “Universal Decay” instills a sense of wonderment and discovery as each phrase glides by. Inundated with sounds, this track would be extremely vibrant if it were not coated thickly with reverb. As such, “Universal Decay” is somewhat disorienting in its proportions despite its linear melodic motion.8.0
Written by Justin Kwok
Justin Kwok is a Media Studies major at UC Berkeley, but daydreams of being an instrumentalist in some electronic duo. He enjoys deep bass music and psychedelia.

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