Anstam first came to prominence with the release of a series of much vaunted 12”s – ‘Brom’, ‘Aeto’ and ‘Cree’. Then a duo, they parted ways and we had to wait until 2011 for the now solo artist to re-emerge from the shrouds. Another series of 12” releases followed, along with a remix of Radiohead’s ‘Separator’. What remains a mystery about this ever-elusive producer, however, instantly becomes irrelevant when presented with his debut LP. ‘Dispel Dances’ is a relentless assault, combining elements of dystopian dubstep, hard-line techno and junglist influences to create a thumping statement of intent.
Released on Modeselektor’s 50 Weapons imprint, look no further than opener ‘Watching The Ships Go Down’ to get an idea of the scope that Anstam operates in. Vast arrays of expertly handled percussion and haunting, ethereal synths provide an idea of what lies ahead. Atmospherics come in thick and fast throughout, and there’s little time to get hold of your senses before plummeting back into the enveloping ambience. Aspects of sound simply come out of
nowhere, adding brilliant melodic lines that fully enrich the album – seen aptly in ‘Bitten By The Snake’, where menacing turns to melancholic in an instant. ‘Stone Cold Hug’ develops sharp, acid-tinged vibes that recall Boddika at his most intense. The range of diversity that is achieved within a limited scale throughout the album is stunning, and despite the rough, taut nature of the tracks, there’s a distinct level of composure behind the intensity, a dichotomy that demonstrates the prowess of the producer behind it.
A notable aspect of ‘Dispel Dances’ is its ability to generate accurate representations of dread and terror within its sound, a trait that manifests itself in ‘Black Friesian Monoliths’ most potently. ‘Statical’ meanwhile provides the perfect precedent; longing, howling synths undercut with pumping kicks and pulsating toms. There’s a sustained contrast between the metallic, jagged nature of the percussion and the vastly atmospheric array of synth work, with fleeting piano and woodwind parts smattered throughout. This creates a continual disparity, the manipulations of sound and most importantly space providing some of the albums most inspiring moments.
The unrelenting, contrasting nature of ‘Dispel Dances’ is what makes it so striking and arresting. Anstam constructs grandiose, looming structures of sound, claustrophobic yet limitless in their scope. His cohesive control over these unrelenting and chaotic principles is something to be admired, and should propel him to the forefront of contemporary electronic music.
‘Dispel Dances’ is out now on 50 Weapons.