Surgeon has released records on a few different labels down the years, but new EP The Golden Sea represents the Birmingham techno legend’s debut drop on The Zenker Brothers’ Ilian Tape imprint. It makes for an intriguing link-up - while many of Ilian Tape’s previous catalogue numbers may bear a little influence of Surgeon’s sound, the label’s releases have often been a little more melodious than the uncompromising, often rather caustic techno with which the Surgeon name has become synonymous.
On The Golden Sea’s title-track and opening number Surgeon meets Ilian Tape halfway. While this cut still rumbles with the sort of precision-engineered techno beat that has become Surgeon’s hallmark down the years, the slightly shuffled groove and pensive synth pads also nod to the work of his new labelmates Skee Mask and Djrum. It makes for a pleasing curio and is an original move for both artist and imprint. However, this blended sound is flushed out as The Golden Sea wears on. The pads are fainter on seasick roller ‘Aqua Marina’, its erratic acid-gone-bad bass loop lurching around as if it is trying to break free from the shackles of the track altogether. By the time we come to the unrelenting closing cut ‘Hostages Of The Deep’ we are very much back in classic Surgeon territory.
Surgeon manages to both break new ground and stay in his own lane on The Golden Sea, his first EP for Ilian Tape.