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Skee
Mask: Compro (Ilian Tapes)

What
a pleasant surprise this album has been for me. While I’d heard some of
Skee Mask’s EPs over the last few years and enjoyed them, I’d no
idea he would translate his various cross-genre flirtations and
hyrbids into such a compelling full-length album debut. Compro has
all the best qualities of a solid, narrative album arc — dynamics,
twists and turns, and a few surprises along the way. The opening,
muted tones of “Cerroverb” that start the album off are a good
tone setter. There’s something warm and familiar about some of the
more ambient and downtempo tracks that appear in the front half of
playback, feeling like a contemporary extrapolation of 90s “golden
age” IDM. Beats don’t really appear until the proceeding track,
“Session Add,” which still has a sublime quality while it
skitters and throbs alternately, a healthy segue into the melodic
lushness of “Rev8617” (an IDM title if I ever saw one).

ITLP04 Skee Mask – Compro by Skee Mask

But he
changes things up in the album’s second act, with tinges of dance
music propelling things forward. “50 Euro to Break Boost” still
feels serene even as its rhythm section ups the ante considerably,
while subsequent tracks flirt with electro and drum and bass breaks.
The big beat of “Dial 274” would fit in nicely alongside some of
Scuba’s bigger breaks, as would the bulbous synths of “Muk FM,”
but there’s still plenty of variety to go around. Those bigger sounds
are often complemented by more subtle ones, including the beatless
peace of “Vli” or “Calamance.” The unifying thread of Compro
is the ubiquity of warm, serene synths and a strong ear for melody
and, when the time is right, hooks. Very highly recommended! One of
our favorites of 2018, hands down.

Buy it: Bandcamp