Gilles Aiken is back at the controls for his latest release as Edward. However, new EP Underwater Jams is the sort of thing that could just as easily have come out under Aiken’s Desert Sky moniker.
We say this because, when he’s in Desert Sky mode, Aiken tends to dial down Edward’s quixotic tech house vibe for more impressionist tracks that take influence from ambient- and micro-house. The same balls are in play on ‘The Lagoon’ and ‘Mental Dive’, the pair of lengthy tracks that make up Underwater Jams. ‘The Lagoon’ in particular is a highly potent bit of kosmische, one that eschews kicks and bass and takes us instead on a journey into deep sound. Huerco S., Nicolas Jaar, Jan Jelinek and Thomas Fehlmann all make their presence felt.
The playing of hand-drummer Geronimo Dehler is present on both tracks here, but it really comes into its own on ‘Mental Dive’. As Edward reintroduces low frequencies while maintaining ‘The Lagoon’s synthetic psychedelia, Dehler’s drumming rings through to power the groove. When you take into account the squelching 303 that occasionally flashes across ‘Mental Dive’, the effect is like Golden Teacher at their most dubbed-out. It’s a hypnotic track, one that allows your thoughts to spiral yet keeps you moving the whole time.
Whether this record is a one-off or heralds a more sustained period of Aiken cross-breeding his Edward and Desert Sky sounds remains to be seen. What’s for certain is that Underwater Jams, powered by Dehler’s percussion chops, is one of the most intriguing tangents in Aiken’s discography to date.