It seems little is known about London producer Spatial, an elusive nature that stretches across all areas of his work. Take the mysterious numerical track titles on his debut, self-titled album (‘80723’, ‘90731’, ‘81012’ etc), or the stylishly hidden links on the website of his own imprint, Infrasonics. A self-proclaimed aversion to self-promotion sits nicely with the largely minimalistic approach to his music, one that spreads to all aspects of his debut release, from the plain white cover dotted with minuscule squares to the enigmatic track names themselves.
A sonic range from delicate rhythmical clicks and spacious synths to pounding kicks and cutup vocal slices are the order of the day on Spatial, evoking both the airy nature of ISAN’s tone poetry, and the more tied down, dancefloor orientated swing of earlier 2-step. Indeed, it’s no coincidence that Spatial has been earmarked as a proponent of the ‘future garage’ form.
After the gentle coaxing of ‘70707’, full of rattling percussion and phased chords, ‘80723’ sets out Spatial’s stall with a burrowing kick drum pattern rolling along underneath low frequency synths and smooth sub-bass notes. The range of frequencies on show throughout the album really serves to highlight not just the amount of space in these productions, but how that space is expertly wielded as a compositional tool. Take the spectral vocals of ‘81012’, or the delayed chord stabs that tame the flurrying beats of ‘90113’.
There is always a chance of overkill in Spatial’s frank style, and this 13-track collection, compiled from the pooling together of four previous 10”s covering almost two years, is a little too much to digest in one continuous sitting. However, the set does sit comfortably with the low attention span approach of shuffle features and single track spins from DJs in their original extended single format, and the almost Coldcut playfulness of later tracks such as ‘100319’ and ‘100402’ benefit from the context given by those that came before.
While Spatial’s style demands the focused attention of the 10”, this full length works as a sparkling CV for an exciting talent.
‘Spatial’ is out now on Infrasonics.