Tuesday, April 13, 2021
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Laughing Ears: Blood

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Artist: Laughing Ears
Title: Blood
Format: 12" + Download
Label: Infinite Machine
The second album from Shanghai-based “Blood” is rather quirky- a set of ten succinct and surprisingly bright-sounding electronica instrumentals, packed with slightly off-centre rhythms, simple melodic loops formed from sometimes marginally silly synth sounds, and plenty of pure-sounding, speaker-wobbling sub-bass.

Like its accompanying artwork, it is both dark and strange, but it is a little stranger than it is dark. It’s generally all very tempered, and the measured pace of tracks like “Untouched Places” help emphasise the drama, for example when the aggressive distortion kicks in in the title track, or the more overt thumping techno of slightly Underworld-ish “Murderous Means”. As such it’s a solid fit for the Infinite Machine label, which has a very strong track record in this field.

There’ve been footwork-ish releases not too dissimilar to this where I’ve suggested that they sound like an incomplete grime album, with a big space in the middle where a rap, other vocal or lead instrument could go. There’s very little of that space here, in a good way. Tracks like “Night Wisps” fill it quite gently, with careful use of textured synth washes and plenty of atmospherics, while “Buona Fortuna” fills it very differently, with barking chanting sounds. It’s got plenty of international flavour, with Eastern influences poking through in the melody and percussion in tracks like “Potcheen”, but in a thoroughly modern way.

There is a case for saying this release lacks the USP to push it to the top of anyone’s 2021 lists. However it’s a release that charts its own course, taking some fairly familiar fundamentals but blending them together in a way that feels like it is bulging with ideas, and it’s well worth a listen.

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