EPHEM:ERA gives us a glimpse of the future as seen from the mixing desk within WEN's universe, leaving behind the darkside grime 'n' garage that he diced for Keysound, Tectonic and Soundman Chronicles. Wen's Big Dada debut album moves from the claustrophobia of swinging street beats and shows us the way up to the highest point of the city. This is music as a vast landscape to survey a view that you can really begin to lose yourself within.
Where his previous album Signals was fully locked into the underground sounds that were ripe in 2014, EPHEM:ERA is very much taking place in an alternative present that we are a long way off reaching. Created during a flourish of activity that saw WEN sculpting beats as an adverse effect to the fleeting and momentary consumption of music, one that the modern world’s Internet-driven approach creates, in his own words, "a restless cycle of distractions". EPHEM:ERA switches things up a gear or five, choosing to focus fully on bold new blocks of sound that, while succinct with the original sounds of early 00's grime, are sure to carry a serious weight and dread that ensures premium longevity. Cut with a clear aim to draw in any that consume this spectrum-spanning, bass-driven style, WEN's music moves with a heavy, tectonic-like bass rumble that has been shot over the edge with some spiked arpeggios, giving the music a fully sculpted textural quality that sounds so futuristic we are surprised the vinyl hasn't been delayed until the year 2020 plus.
Describing the albums 12 tracks as “electronic studies - a sequence mapped out across the fringes of experimental club music”, WEN once again focuses his techno periscope on the limitless opportunities offered up by hardcore, jungle, grime and garage production and hits top marks for sheer, fresh inventiveness within the confines of his sound. This is evident from the raucous Zomby style techno of 'GRIT' to the fittingly waterlogged 'RAIN', which could be the sound of Wiley's Ground Zero dubplate submerged in a flooded basement flat. The tones throughout give off the feeling of harsh needle edged stabs that are constantly puncturing holes within any preconceptions of what you may expect the next track to sound like. 'DIVERSE' comes across like Chevron remixing Panasonic, before 'TIME II THINK' blends the classic UKG peak time reach with the leftfield hardcore of Parris and FFT. Landing fully loaded with icy melodies that hang over the rolling post-garage beats, this is the sort of music you’d expect to soundtrack some nightmarish future-shock robotic uprising during a nuclear winter of grime and techno.
While it hits the target of creating music in adverse reaction to the current culture of endless throwaway digestion: “music is quickly discovered, momentarily explored, before attention is swiftly re-directed elsewhere”, we can safely say WEN's EPHEM:ERA breaks the cycle yet also builds a new contraption for it to exist in, and as such, is sure to command repeat spins for many years to come.