Planetary Assault Systems – The Eyes Themselves EP [MOTE]
Luke Slater’s latest offering is a brilliantly sophisticated three-track that encapsulates the listener in a compelling sound-world, characterised by stripped down but highly proficient arrangements and well-grounded musical ideas. ‘The Eyes Themselves’ appears on his own Mote-Evolver imprint, an enduring platform for self-releasing his own music while also an outlet for other techno luminaries such as Mike Parker, Psyk, Shifted and Marcel Fengler. ‘The Eyes Themselves’ continues from a handful of recent PAS releases on Mote-Evolver, including the excellent ‘Future Modular’ and ‘Deep Heet Vol.3’ EPs. ‘The Eyes Themselves’ is both enrapturing and original, and purists will particularly enjoy Slater’s latest venture.
Title track ‘The Eyes Themselves’ is a psychedelic six-minute trip, wholly defined by the rising bell motif that enters half a minute in and its repetitive counter-point beneath. A syncopated refrain bounces playfully from a light tapping kick to open, while the textures morph and expand almost imperceptibly throughout. The warping bells continue to rise like drops of evaporating water as the track’s hypnotic stare becomes an irresistible indulgence, reaffirming our departure into the unknown. The listener is seductively and almost immediately lured into a trance, while percussive nuances and subtle electronic voices begin to transport us with their hyper-warp capabilities.
A2 does indeed exude this strange attraction through its mysterious ascending hook. Instrumentation here is largely similar to the previous track and ‘Strange Attractor’ can be seen in many ways as an extension of ‘The Eyes Themselves’, very much an adjoining chapter in this dizzying sojourn through the cosmos. Again, hypnotic loops establish a baseline from which other elements can awaken, most prominently the drum hits at 01:25 – this is a salient feature in Slater’s work, seamless beds of sonic texture are juxtaposed by fully congruous percussion rhythms, yet are very much at the foreground of the mix. As the track develops, Slater’s well-managed arrangement allows for a methodical and effective build of layers, as hats and snares erupt into the mix. Little electronic bursts sparingly litter the music on the A-side, such as that at 05:03, and it is these smaller details that mark Slater’s process as diligent and considered.
Where the first two tracks are more effeminate in their demeanour, ‘Arc’ provides something more heady. A similar structure is used here, and the same driving energy that appears on the A-side can also be found in this number. ‘Arc’ is more direct in its approach and adopts a heavy-handed treatment to the lows and mids, beginning with a flurry of dirty synth splutters and encroaching synth and percussion. Slater’s layering always feels so organic and the absence of the conventional breakdown allows for the track to really grow and develop, eliciting a perpetual motion that is simultaneously stirring and energising.
There is much to be said about Slater’s refined production work; the ability to condense the music to the bare essentials yet create musically engaging ideas is the hallmark of an experienced and masterful artist. What characterises all three tracks is the propelled sense of build-up, it’s a suspense that is both mature and well calculated and infuses the music with a powerful energy – this is very much in line with his mixing style too.
The EP as a whole is an intoxicating ride, equal parts mysterious and brooding. ‘The Eyes Themselves’ shows an artist really in touch with his process, one who has honed his vision and palette over the course of two decades. Slater’s latest offering on Mote-Evolver is on point and will pique any dance-floor willing to go deeper.