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Skee Mask’s ISS series for Ilian Tape has taken in a wide range of genres since it began back in 2017. Techno, breakbeat, rave, dubstep, grime and much else besides has all been swirled up in Bryan Müller’s evocative and dubbed-out sound. As he brings up a half-dozen releases in the series with ISS006, Skee Mask retreats even further into the mist than he has on previous records, opting for a set of brooding ambiences, evocative drones and haunted electronic experiments.
Several of the tracks here are submerged in grainy fog, obscured by the sort of thick clouds which smother records by Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement and The Caretaker. In the way in which little cells of synthesiser struggle to push their way through the ether on tunes such as ‘MDP5’ and ‘Henk (Version Whatever)’ we also hear some of Burial’s ambient output in ISS006’s DNA. We’re a long, long way from the dancefloor.
When sonics from Skee Mask’s club output appear here they do so as apparitions, untethered from the rhythms which have driven them previously. Sub-bass hums at the bottom of opener ‘Cafe Mu’ - a track which, in its flurrying violin line, comes off as the inverse of the dancefloor-ready curtain-raiser from ISS006’s sister release ISS005 (also Ilian Tape). Even at its most bright-sounding, ISS005 is still lost in thought - ‘Mbass123 Excerpt’ is anchored by trilling synths which recall the woozy interludes from Rustie’s Glass Swords.
Whereas Skee Mask’s ISS005 was for the DJs, the concurrently-released ISS006 is very much a headphones experience. These granular ambiences go very deep indeed.