Hyponik

Rico Cassaza

Review: Rico Casazza – They Move Fast

Rico Casazza’s decade long career has been as prolific as it has been varied. In the last year alone the London-based producer has released as many as four full-length projects under a series of monikers, as well as a slew of one-offs and guest mixes, each of them exhibiting a different facet of the producer’s diverse but sophisticated palette: ambient, trip-hop and tech-house have all received look-ins. For They Move Fast, Casazza narrows his sights, returning with laser-focused precision for a quartet of club-ready dystopian jams.

The opening duo –the two unadulterated Casazza compositions– are an ode to all things Roland, their sonics set by the iconic machinery of the ’80s era 808 and TB-303. These analogue inclinations give the music a decidedly retro feel, peppering it with unmistakable markers of the acid era: all squelchy bass, condensed claps and pinging cowbells.

Opening track ‘Minimonsta‘ keeps things firmly tethered to terra firma with tight 4/4 rhythms throbbing throughout. However, the sky remains open overhead: airy synths swoop above the industrial terrain, subtly nodding to the producer’s erstwhile ambient leanings. Continuing in the same vein, ‘They Move Fast‘ is a propulsive piece of no-nonsense electro. But here the earthly horizons yield to the extraterrestrial: a sinister voice reverberates throughout, recounting a narrative of alien encounter with wide-eyed urgency. The cumulative effect is of uncompromising but alluring darkness, a world ruled by machines, with scant human presence.

For the remainder Casazza cedes control to producers Rowka and HRTL, each offering their respective reinterpretation of one of the earlier tracks. Rowka doubles down on the dread with his take on ‘Minimonsta‘, kicking up the urgency with a jumpstarted BPM and metamorphosing the soaring synths of its source material into metallic rasps. However, it’s the EP’s closing track which really grabs my attention. As a kid raised on the radio rips and 8-bit blips of early noughties grime, I admittedly have a partiality for lo-fi electronics, and the closer very much plays to those tastes. If it’s earlier incarnation sound-tracked the ascendance of the machines, HRTL’s rendering details a portrait of their decay. The sampled voice of the original warps and falters as if filtered through a corrupted transmission; the thunderous beats of its counterpart appear here almost unfeasibly degraded – if the bit-rates were any lower they’d surely disappear into the layers of static enveloping the track. The consequent feel is of a track threatening to implode at any moment. It’s exhilarating stuff.

All in all They Move Fast is a solid EP, displaying a firm mastery of music this side of the acid/tech continuum. However, knowing Cassava’s musical magpie ways, it’s unlikely to be a place he’ll rest stylistically for long; he certainly does move fast. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Words: Franklin Dawson

Rico Casazza’s They Move Fast EP is out now on BEEF Records. Order it here