ALBUM: Mega City Industry EP
ARTIST: iTAL tEK
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”