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Bjarki:
Б (TRIP)

While
I don’t generally focus on the opinions of others here, I read a
review of Bjarki’s recent collection of tracks on Pitchfork that
essentially panned it as being overly obvious or derivative. I beg to
differ! To my ears, this is the work of a well studied young producer
trying his hand at the sounds of the past that likely inspired him to
make music in the first place. His contributions to Nina Kraviz’s
When I Was 14 compilation got my attention, and Б continues the
trend, winning me over with such veneration for what’s come before.
“Marsian Raver” starts things off with airy pads and a
persistent, chuggy drum pattern, the balance between which recalls
the dreaminess of early Autechre or Aphex Twin, but streamlined for
the dancefloor. “Opalocka Acid Groove 12 Bit Mix” has a rolling,
sedate acid bassline while synth squiggles and accents pepper it with
a nervous energy; he swaps that flirtation with acid for a full on
hoover jam on “Here It Comes Can You Feel It 92 Hoover 2,” a
track whose name in itself feels like a mashup of Zomby’s early 90s
nostalgia and a nod to Fingers Inc. (in name more than sound).In
fact, the whole first block of four tracks feels like a trip down
memory lane, but with punchy production and a knack for flow. “Son
of a Son” feels more like a palate cleanser of an interlude with
its downtempo lilt, a pacing gesture he also uses with “Can a Man”
toward the end of the collection. But aside from those
well-positioned diversions, Б offers a fairly clever and very
well-crafted journey through homage to seminal productions of yore.

“T4iT 3” picks up the pace again with a crunchy pattern that once
again recalls vintage Aphex Twin or Autechre, just as the skittering
open hi-hats of “Travel in Space” feel of a similar time in the
90s. These tracks are fairly tightly wound, definitely less concerned
with wow factor on their own and with a certain dedication to
utility, perhaps aimed at weaving together as part of a whole rather
than necessarily standing apart. “The Lover That You Are” fuses
the same affinity to acid with more bite and a more mid-tempo groove,
while the canned loops and space sounds of “As You Remember” feel
quite familiar but in a way that makes me smile. “MIDI 1 4-AUG2”
closes things out with a dead-on impression of Autechre circa Amber
or Tri Repeatae, in everything from its syncopated IDM drum
programming to the melodic hook that will remind any seasoned
listener of those recordings or perhaps even Autechre’s Gescom alias
before exploding into a more raucous banger. Somehow it feels
appropriate as a closing track, being the most leftfield and also
sort of closing the gap between inspiration points for a complete
indulgence of his influences. Rumor has it that he has more
collections of tracks due out this year, and I’m curious how those
will sound relative to these tracks. I suspect this is a talent just
finding his voice, still cascading through his points of inspiration
with enthusiasm and reverence that will likely evolve over time into
something more fully his own. But as it stands, I find Б to be a
really handsome grouping of tracks equally steeped in nostalgia and a
familiar ease.

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