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4 November 2015

Rlyeh1:
The Grey Lights (Mindtrick)

Horror
movie fans will immediately recognize the creepy grind that
punctuates the opening track of The Grey Lights, “Ghost
(Antinferno).” It’s a curious contrast of soundsa, that sample
that’s inseparable from its grisly origins peppered throughout a
dreamy downtempo arrangement. But once that disorienting cloud passes
by, the rest of The Grey Lights shimmies with the same spooky
atmosphere and contrasts as classic Burial. In most tracks, broken
beat patterns underpin disembodied and often repitched vocal samples
and phrases over otherwise reverb-soaked pads and layers. So while
The Grey Lights may be tagged as “dubstep” on its Bandcamp page,
it’s the dubbier, more spacious side of the genre’s origins and has
almost none of the trappings of the snarlier machismo associated with
the tag these days. Rlyeh1 often marries this sensibility with washes
of vintage IDM (Toytronic, Neo Ouija ca. 2000), filled out with
skittering details and spacey synths. the manipulation of pitch and
pan isn’t limited to the voices that float throughout; I dig the use
of crunchy repitched drums and claps and scattered hihats as accents.

Tracks like “A Little Bit Closer” have an added bite in dynamics,
with some extra distortion and a heavier hand (the wobble bass is
especially conspicuous), but this is all good as it helps make the
album more of a journey, capturing some of the drama of an act
like The Glitch Mob but from afar, washed in reverb. Some of the
sequencing is curious, like the juxtaposition of “A Little Bit
Closer” against “For Ever,” both of which use an almost
identical descending pattern, only a half-step off in key (and one
slower than the other). The album benefits greatly from instrumentals
(that is, no vocal samples used at all), because that pitch-bent
drawn out vocal style does begin to wear out its welcome after
several cuts in a row. So “Reminiscence” is a cool diversion with
its gritty synth pads and spacious kicks. Occasionally a track throws
down a proper groove that’s more uptempo and lively, heard in the 80s
gated drums of “Cold White Hell” and the chuggy stride of “Piece
of Paper,” again channeling Burial but with a four-to-the-floor
rhythm section. Those moved by that specifically spacey side of early
dubstep will no doubt enjoy Rlyeh1’s take on it, full of cinematic
flourishes and expansive aspiration.

Buy it: Bandcamp

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