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16 December 2015

Acre:
Better Strangers (Tectonic)

“I
tried to include more emotion in this album than my previous releases
and wanted to represent a broader side of my productions. The title Better Strangers comes from the feeling that some people
make better strangers than friends (or better off being strangers) in
your life, and the album is about recognising that.”

It’s
interesting to hear Better Strangers after only having heard Acre’s
very first self-titled EP for Saturate in 2011. He’s released several
EPs since then, and based on listening to the sounds of Better
Strangers
, it’s not hard to fill in the gaps as to what his
trajectory has been over the last few years. It’s safe to say,
though, that Better Strangers fully delivers on the potential that his
early tracks displayed. Nods to grime and downtempo trends are
present but are even more obfuscated and oblique. Occasionally it
comes through clearly, like in the donk bass pattern of “Jouska”
or in the big detuned square lead of “Spiral,” but many times
Acre is just as content to push into the outer limits of manipulated
and affected sound, whether drenched in reverb or oscillators that
wildly zip up and down, rarely content to sit still for more than a
few beats.

“Dek U” is all shrill tones and sputtering beats
before an elegant synth pattern provides some levity overhead,
combining again elements of classic IDM with less predictable
rhythmic production. Acre’s tendency for bit-crushed sound (often
dialing up or down the effect over time) and juxtaposing harder,
tougher sounds with more graceful and melodic elements is what fuels
most of Better Strangers, an album that is oddly consistent
considering how all over the place it can feel at times.

By that I
mean that it tends to shift gears regularly, and yet it all sounds
like it came from the same hand and same toolkit, two things that
help it feel like a body of work rather than just a collection of
tracks. It feels like a more abrasive Arca, to name a contemorary
that comes to mind, but with its feet firmly planted in grime rather
than Arca’s more abstract head in the clouds. But fans of angular and
experimental electronic beatmaking will no doubt enjoy Acre’s unusual
album, particularly fans of Blue Daisy, Arca, Vessel, or perhaps
Dalhous.

Buy it: Tectonic | Boomkat | Bleep | iTunes | Amazon

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