Review: DL-MS – Exit Ghost (Trust)

DL-MS – Exit Ghost (Trust)

Quieter year so far for DJ Glow’s Trust label, but it looks as if they’re getting into their stride now with a new release by DL-MS, a follow-up to last year’s Rogue Intent and one that in a wonderful display of synchronicity shares its title with a fine novel by the very recently departed Philip Roth. I demand more electronic music with literary pretensions – it’s the way forward for sure.

And Exit Ghost itself is pretty forward leaning, which is interesting because the general feel of the music is very much old school. The electro is textured not only with the now ubiquitous filaments of IDM, but something weightier and more alien: a luminosity which recalls the wide open spaces of classic ambient techno, where the tripiness of the journey is carried by the fluidity of the grooves and the beats.

Both Tides and Honokida have that dichotomy at the heart of their DNA. Honokida in particular dives into a deep well of electronica, retrieving the movement of ancient Detroit from the sediment at the bottom, and using it to inform a gliding, haunting, paean where the thick, serpentine bassline winds around mournful pads and little touches reminiscent of Rhythim Is Rhythim at their most visionary. Tides is dirtier; less interested in the clouds it keeps itself rooting through the undergrowth, propelling itself with tricks borrowed from tech-step and a quiet, subtle sense of exploration. Yet both tracks share a common aspect regardless of how high they climb or how low they dig, a strength of mood and an understanding of the way influences interplay with each other to create something new.

Of the flip side’s two tunes, Exit Ghost is perhaps the less immediately intimate but the one more likely to draw you back time and again to explore its layered mysteries. There’s something about it – the aggressively up-front yet entirely louche weave of its groove, or the growing rush as the chopped down, pulsing bass grows in importance, which keeps it always slightly beyond the familiar. By the time the tune brings the different parts of itself together, it has already dialled down into a midnight land-cruise, all shadows and glints of sodium light. As much D&B and Carl Craig as it is recognizably electro, Exit Ghost is proof that the genre is changing, altering itself for the future (something I hope to shed a few words about sometime soon). Perhaps in unfortunate comparison to its immediate sibling, Terminal Din A feels disjointed and less complete, particularly for the first couple of minutes – although that is soon offset by an unexpected warmth which slowly morphs into a gentle wistfulness that finally gives the tune the meaning it was missing.

Electro is changing, and not even in the ways we might have expected a couple of years ago. There is a new-found confidence in exploring other influences and Exit Ghost is a fine example of this blossoming ethos. There will be a few strange directions taken on this new journey, you can be sure of that, but if some of the destinations are as interesting as this, it’ll be worth it. I don’t know whether Big Phil Roth would have been a fan of new-generation electro but I like to think he would have allowed his feet a wee shuffle to Exit Ghost even while he said something beautifully, perfectly, cutting about it.