SCB – ‘Loss/Future Unknown’ (Aus Music)

Paul Rose has over the years acquired an almost mythical status as both a producer and DJ, and as a catalyst for new and talent via his exceptional Hotflush label.

Artists like Mount Kimbie, Sigha, Joy Orbison and Sepalcure have all benefited massively from having his weight behind their releases and his own Scuba and SCB projects have garnered critical acclaim across the board with their refined, ruminative takes on dubstep and the techno crossover. The SCB output in particular – a direct response to Rose’s move to Berlin and the subsequent nights spent in Berghain and Panoramabar – delivered a sharp, polished series of techno releases to an audience that might not otherwise have been exposed to the genre were it not for Rose and his dubstep leaning contemporaries like 2562, Shed, and Martyn. He has, in short been an original and innovative lynchpin for two separate scenes almost in his spare time.

Which makes reviewing this latest release, on Will Saul’s excellent Aus Music so much harder. A-side ‘Loss’ makes a swift break from the deep techno which we’re used to hearing from Rose’s studio. A slow-burning tech-house builder, it features an almost generic sounding looped, pitched female vocal sample strapped onto a plodding bassline and sustained, ringing chords all bolted together over what, as the track progresses, turn out to be disappointingly sterile beats. The depth, subtlety and raw energy found on earlier SCB releases ’20_4′ and ‘Hard Boiled VIP’ has vanished completely as he brings this track into a polished, but nonetheless predictable drop and out again to an uneventful close.

Things get a little better on the B-side ‘Future Unknown’ with more attention paid to the drum programming and an altogether more coherent and attentive feel to the direction and purpose of the track. It’s definitely the stronger of the two with huge, roaring metallic pads that just beg for a big system and a wistful, breathy synth line floating somewhere between euphoria and permanent brain damage that’s bound to lay wanton waste to dancefloors in both Berlin and Blighty.

As the musical landscape continues its shift from the tougher, moodier shades of the past 5 years toward brighter and more colourful pastures, we can be certain that Rose will remain an influential and inventive presence, continually testing the water with new and vibrant deviations from the sound he made his name with. The hope is that in his meanderings through his own “future unknown” he’ll stay away from the curse that afflicts so much electronic music and tech-house in particular: the feeling of contrived and forced emotional manipulation that this release unfortunately falls victim to.

Chris Lawes

‘Loss/Future Unknown’ is out now on Aus Music.