Mike Paradinas. It has been a while me old mustard. One of the Rephlex alumni along side Richard D. James, Luke Vibert, Squarepusher et al, and boss of the Planet Mu label. More pseudonyms than an Anonymous Hacktivist – Tusken Raiders / Jake Slazenger / Kid Spatula / Rude Ass Tinker.. BUT, Mike’s back with the U-Ziq, and us Braindance geeks know that means business and time to pay attention, and boy is it worth it! We’ve only got our first full-length album since 2013’s Chewed Corners, courtesy of a pandemic holiday in Wales no less. If it encourages tourism to the Scurlage area in Swansea is questionable, but if that barren landscape and cold Irish sea wind brings a flurry of productiveness, I recommend giving it a go if you’re having a creative block.

Digressed too far! Back to this beautiful two slices of turquoise viny. So, alongside his trademark skittering drums, crisp rounded bass stabs and uplifting pads we have some real variation in atmosphere. The opening ‘Blakers Loop’ brings forth the image of the approach of some futuristic sentient machinery, but this is followed by a smoothing old school Rephlex synth sounding ‘Preston Melodies’ then immediately after a bounce back to the present with ‘Murker’ a dark and foreboding track with a particularly James Shinra-esque lead.

Flip to side B – we have the crisp, clattering ‘Slade Treacher’ with an evolving time stretched bass that deserves to be played loud (apologies to neighbours) and the track’s drums evolve through to stabbing 90s breaks.

Side C is more reflective and fun, ‘Oxwich & Penrice’ sounds like the imagined sounds of the Welsh landscape whilst Mr Paradinas tweaks and fiddles with his stacks of tech and it is one of those that grows and grows on you, headphones or in the car it will stick with you. ‘Blauwasser’ – Keeping with the holiday theme here, this one I imagine an 80s sports car with pop-up headlights, Mike donning his shades and taking to the winding valley roads.

Side D – ‘Sketty’ – bass heavy yet emotive, speaker stacks rocking while a single beacon flashes in the distance. The final track ‘Strawberry Aero’ is one of those post rave sunset feel that brings a neat ending to an album that feels like a journey – listen to it in its entirety, embrace the excitement that a complicated yet accessible U-Ziq album brings. It’s a rare thing – well, literally too unfortunately as it has already sold out! 

Buy or preview digital direct from the label on Bandcamp – [AF038LP] Scurlage | µ-Ziq | Analogical Force (bandcamp.com)

Review by Rik Mannix

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