James Young and Aiden Whalley’s Darsktar project has deep roots in the post-dubstep, low-frequency maelstrom of ‘00s London. Their earliest releases came in the form of a series of 12” stand-out singles for labels like Hyperdub–peaking with the excellent “Aidy’s Girls A Computer.”
But the duo’s forays into bass music were just the beginning. Like contemporaries James Blake and Mount Kimbie they expanded their creative boundaries beyond the club, and into the realm of song craft.
This evolution was evidenced when they recruited vocalist James Buttery for their debut LP North (Hyperdub)–an album’s electronic ballads ranging in mood from merely glum, to despondent (Hyperdub boss Kode9 dubbed it “the sound of weeping circuitry.”)
News From Nowhere, released a few weeks ago on Warp Records, continues their trajectory into full on songs. This time though, the dominant melancholic motif that has been a hallmark Darkstar’s catalog up to this point, has been stripped away for the most part, revealing something much more lively and open ended—even the sparser cuts on North feel claustrophobic by comparison.
There’s a flowery indie-ish ambiance that pervades much of the album, characterized by celestial melodies and soft clock-work percussion.
The overall feeling to these tracks is much more “live,” and yet the vestiges of their club beginnings remain in the form of slight electronic warps and glitches, 808 subs and subtle manipulation of Buttery’s vocals.
I wouldn’t call it happy music by a long shot, but for an act like Darkstar, the sing-songy, Animal Collective-esque chorus of “Amplified Ease” is probably as close to happy as is possible.
Purchase News From Nowhere here