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Nathan Fake marks his return to form following a two-year hiatus with the radioactive electronics of Providence.
In what many are calling the perfect partnership, this eagerly anticipated follow-up to his 2012 Border Community entry Steam Days arrives not via his usual home of Border Community, but cements his new partnership with Ninja Tune. Providence expertly builds upon the edgy, dark techno of last year's Degreelessness 12" with a twelve shot strong adrenalin rush that amounts to some of the most life-affirming electronic music you are likely to hear in 2017.
When he first emerged way back in 2003, Nathan Fake's music instantly caught our ear, transfixing the sort of electronica that leant heavily in the direction of the early 00's left-field micro-house, Nathan Fake instantly stood out as a must-check name within the new wave of producers who became instrumental in crafting out the scene-setting sound for James Holden's Border Community. Staying true to form, the intervening years saw him tailor his sound into directions of experimental electronic that while they were sure to do the damage on a proper rig, had a unique tendency to offer a vastly expansive outpost for the sort of on route to work headphone commutes that characterizes a lot of music fans’ listening habits.
Having been struck down with writer’s block for the past two years, Nathan made a surprise return at the tail end of 2016 with a fierce two-tracker for Ninja Tune, indicating a new home and a new direction for his signature blend. Enlisting the help of Hospital Productions-head honcho and poster boy noise-ician Prurient, they dropped a Vatican Shadow style roller of a stripped-back industrial tech affair. While it blew minds and speakers alike, it carried a strong sense of fierce darkness that perhaps reflected the previous two years Fake spent unable to break through his block and produce again.
Providence opens with the sort of hypercolour complexion you would expect from a Lorenzo Senni record - the slightly out of focus euphoric vibe reverberating around a handful of chords, that builds into a feeling of a sudden eruption under its own weight. A tense, yet truly riveting, start to the ride that sets the pace perfectly for what lies ahead. Focusing strongly inwards, here we find Fake excavating influences from the crunchy drum rolls of mecanica popular through to weightless grime.
Catering for both sides of the turntable, there are plenty of avenues to explore for those looking to expand their minds and evenings with a home listening session. The melancholic HoursDaysMonthsSeasons slowly unfolds itself around a glistening two note structure that spins out into an epic showdown of glass-like chords and a growling bassline straight out of an Ed Rush tune. Elsewhere The Equator & I follows suit but looks to Arca's own brand of electronics for influence. For our money though, the real showstopper on the ambient-avant-side has to be Radio Spiritworld, a sort of mechanical drill of lazer guided keys darting around what sounds like field recordings of water falling to create a disorientating LSD-emons induced Musique concrète spiral out.
Showing that he can knock out a techno tune as good as (and listening to the tracks here, in some cases here much better!) anyone in his field, title track PROVIDENCE sets the start with a super sharp shooter of trap laced synths and the sort of mentasm that would have Joey Beltram harking back for a high-NRG Energy Flash rewind like it’s 1990. SmallCityLights starts with a motorik beat and heavily distorted bassline chugging away to create a new beat stepper before collapsing in on itself into a wall of feedback and swirling high-end. Whilst CONNECTIVITY goes slow-mo-techno with a raw analogue fuzz that adds a heavy weight threatening to crush the speakers, deck and more than likely any room it's allowed to be unleashed in.
Having been releasing music for fourteen years, it would be so easy for Nathan Fake to sit back and churn out an album of Steam Days offcuts, and to be fair if he did we would have all been more than happy. A true testament to his musicianship though is the fact that he has done the opposite and propelled himself forward into areas previously unexplored, moving into a frighteningly new and unique sound that even after all these years shows he is constantly evolving and moving fwd. A trait we reckon many long standing producers around could learn from! Much like the title suggests, Providence is an album that seemingly has come from somewhere else, reaching dizzying new heights while remaining unmistakably one step ahead.