With his 3rd outing on Pheek’s Archipel label, Rico Casazza drifts through Detroit electro, 2-step, garage and electronica, maintaining cohesion through a dreamy, trippy aesthetic, and balancing nods to older styles and sounds with more modern production. Opener “Golden Leaf” bathes a slowed down electro framework in reverb, layering a watery synth, soft vocal sample and atmospheric pads on top and creating a nice, if non-descript opening sequence. There are hints of tension in some of the chord progressions and more metallic rumblings, though, and this is built upon in “Sequenza”. The rise and fall of starry synths through filters and delay, paired with a muted acid line and bass throbs evokes the classic ‘deep space’ electro feel whilst keeping a wholly modern sound palette.
At this point, it would seem the 8 track EP is heading for an exploration of electro themes put through a modern electronica lens. “Dark Matter” throws this trajectory firmly in the bin, smudging mumbled, processed vocal samples over some kind of demented minimal hip-hop beat, while all sorts of glitchy synths and samples pop and fizz in the background (I’m fairly sure there is a door creaking in there somewhere). Whilst a left turn stylistically, it still manages to maintain the spacey and trippy, yet tense aesthetic of the first 2 tracks. The last of the digital tracks, “Jobsuck” changes the gear again, with flanging dreamy synths and an echoed out diva sample weaving in and out of a poppy garage beat, creating a satisfyingly lurching feel. The bouncy, rounded 90s style bassline would normally be a slight cliché, but against this backdrop it works nicely to give the track some weight.
After listening through the final 4 (vinyl-only) tracks, it becomes apparent that they are intended for club use, which makes sense given the penchant of many of the top minimal-leaning DJs for vinyl-only sets. All 4 are faster than anything in the first half, and whilst none are out and out peak-time fair, there is definitely enough weight to them to move a crowd. The growling bassline and syncopated acid motif of languid number “Aye” are magnetic, and one can very much imagine it pulsing across a contemplative dancefloor. The last 3 tracks maintain this balance between dancefloor functionality and the dreamy, trippy, tense aesthetic Cassazza has engineered throughout the whole EP. “Allichu” is the heaviest of the lot, punchy drums skittering off all over the place, while plaintive chords rise slowly through the mix. Closer “Yaman” is fast and sparse, with another sad synth arpeggiating over a glitchy, echoey electro beats.
Whilst many producers would struggle to maintain such a cohesive (and pleasing) aesthetic across 8 tracks in the same way as Casazza has done here, after over 40 minutes of music it can feel slightly tired. However, the separation into digital and vinyl may imply that the release is not meant to be viewed as a whole to be listened through sequentially. Either way, there are touches of real beauty here, such as in the deft interweaving of dubby chords, echoey treated vocal sample and ancestral pads in “Painful Wisdom”. Whether at home or on the dancefloor, I’m sure this release will create some blissful, introspective moments.
Yaman is out on the 30th November on 12” & digital. Available in stores or available direct from the label here – archipelmusique.bandcamp.com/.
You can check other previews from the album here – soundcloud.com/ricocasazza/sets/yaman