BOXCUTTER - GLYPHIC (Planet Mu CD)
Northern Ireland's Barry Lynn returns with his second long-player for Planet Mu and, like it's predecessor 'Oneiric', it's a fascinating, intricately detailed and obsessively nuanced collection that touches bass with dubstep yet with a considerably wider spectrum of influence and aspiration. The title track opens proceedings in familiar Boxcutter territory with it's glacial, abstract halfstep beats and whorls of echo-drenched sound matter, including snatches of freeform brass and woodwind, building on the artistic success of 'Sunshine' from his earlier album, and inspired by Lynn's devotion to the more exploratory side of free jazz from the turn of the '70s. It's a style that he keeps referencing throughout this new eleven track collection. In fact, for all it's futuristic production, 'Glyphic' is swamped with retro influences: "Windfall" in particular is an astonishing three minute experiment built on a righteous roots riddim, full of Tubby-like spring reverb detonations, yet colliding with fluttering jazz flutes, skronky saxophone dissonance and effervescent lashings of analogue synth lead melody. The combined effect is startlingly fresh and unexpected. Having recently invested in some genuine old skool kit, like the Sequential Pro-1 monosynth and TR-707 drum machine, Lynn wastes no time in adding them into the mix, in fact two tracks presented here ("Bloscid" and "Lunal") sound surprisingly similar to some of AFX's "Analord" series. Elsewhere, "Foxy" lifts a sweet soul vocal for a track that sounds a bit like The Isley Brothers sailing on a fluid rhythm of broken 2-Step and dirty funk breaks. On "Rusty Break", Lynn returns to his first instrument, the electric guitar, layering impressionistic lines of wah-wah glissandi over a rigorously edited drumfunk loop, whilst "Kalied" ramps-up the breakbeat science even further. But Boxcutter saves the best for last: "Fieldtrip" closes the album with a breathtakingly spectacular epic where the hyperspeed breaks swing and flay like jazz legend Elvin Jones on PCP, as viscous layers of instrumentation swell and dissolve in a powerfully evocative and emotionally charged freeform odyssey. Barry Lynn is an insanely talented musician/producer and you'll be hard-pressed to find a more far-reaching, imaginative and musically engaging album emerging from dubstep or any other genre this year.
(first published in Woofah #2)