Album Reviews

Eskmo – Eskmo

(Ninja Tune) UK release date: 4 October 2010

Brendan Angelides, otherwise known as Eskmo, has been around the block. He can count such influential companies such as Warp and Planet Mu amongst his litany of releasing labels, and now he can add Ninja Tune to that list. Most of his releases over the last few years have been singles and EPs, including 2009’s Hypercolor – championed by Radio 1 DJ Mary-Anne Hobbs and the influential Bleep catalogue. The San Francisco-based producer is now ready to venture into unknown territory: a full-length album.

It seems quite surprising that a man Angelides’ calibre has not previously released an album, but his self-titled effort is his first attempt and bringing the success of his EPs and singles onto the LP format. Eskmo made his name due to his use of textures and samples; more to the point, his intelligently thought-out method of constructing his material. Color Dropping, for a song that sports at least 10 different types of electronic noise, remains uncluttered due to Angelides’ clever use of his equipment. Elsewhere, Starships has some suitably ethereal sounding effects that live up to its song title.

There are a few other highlights that make for fascinating listening. We Got More is dominated by a thumping beat that creates a chugging groove that, in turn, drives everything along. Cloudlight features shifting and sliding sounds that conceal a robotic vocal that is almost hushed and hazy in its ambient quality. That said, they are a lot more prominent on the short but sweet album closer My Gears Are Starting To Tremble, which makes a nice change from the rest of the album.

However, there are signs that an LP of Eskmo material, as opposed to bite-size chunks, might be asking too much. There is a lot of average-sounding filler here. You Go, I See That feels more like an epic slog than a brief two-minute interlude. We Have Invisible Friends (labelled here as a ‘Washed Mix’) has the potential to be a standout, but is much more concerned with creating a dense soundscape that perhaps isn’t as developed as it should be. Then there’s Communication, which staggers and stutters its way to its conclusion.

Put this album on in the background and the chances are it will create a nice chilled atmosphere; but that’s it, really. And that’s disappointing. There’s no denying that Eskmo’s construction methods are intriguing, but it lacks coherence. Repeated listens fail to reveal any hidden layers. It might be best to stick with the EPs for now.

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