Return To Cascada is a 6-track, 25-minute EP that revisits last year’s “Ways Of Seeing” album (and “Refresher” EP), giving us a remix, a couple of alternate versions, a live version and a short new track. So I’d best disclose here that I haven’t heard the source album, and am judging this EP on its standalone merits- and it scores highly.
The first track, Skee Mask’s version of “Rez” is the kind of intelligent electronica that Planet Mu is so revered for, just the right balance of intellectual and emotional. Last track “Teufelsberg” is a gentle skittish melody of romantic bleeps, for fans of both love and programming. Both are exemplars of synth expression, and it was exactly what I was expecting. The rest of the package is more of a surprise.
By contrast, the title track is strangely conventional electro-pop by Planet Mu standards, it’s almost synthwave with its steady 4-4 beat, energetic synths and vocodered lyric snippets. The club edit of “Saule Acid” is also remarkably 4-4, a definite highlight and a joyous fusion of acid sounds and retro loops with fresh atmospherics. The live version of “Caramel”- although you can’t tell it’s live- is melodically almost in the territory of hands-in-the-air trance music, but seen through a filter of lo-fi effects and toothy, almost 8-bit synths.
The ‘ambient mix’ of “I’m For Real” isn’t ambient by any rational definition. Taking a synthwave track and stripping the drums and bass off it doesn’t make it ambient if the synths are still pulsing and throbbing with rhythmic attitude- but it does highlight some of the beautiful sonics, so if you can forgive the mis-naming, it’s excellent.
It’s an unusual little package of reworks that stands up in its own right without its parent releases- a short burst of smart and loosely optimistic electronica.