Review: ASC – Realm of the Infinite (Auxiliary)

Highly recommended, awe-inspiring terraform tunes from a masterful producer.

The ‘mysterious’ producer is a heavily fetishised trope in today’s club culture. Anyone without a hefty touring schedule or a manicured social media presence is cast as enigmatic and secretive, a relic of a simpler time before the digital revolution and its dwindling revenue streams, its superficial tastes and fly-by-night touring circuit.

Still, you’d be hard pressed to find an artist staying as true to the lost art of the producer as James Clements (ASC). For the sake of his health and creative focus, Clements keeps club appearances to an absolute minimum, working prodigiously from Del Mar, California – a lifestyle almost monk-like in our post-digital world.

Like several other artists with roots in dnb, Clements began making techno in the late ‘00s as the Autonomic era began to wind down. Since 2015, Clements has charted his departure from 170 into Grey Area.

With the polyrhythmic formula acting as a blueprint, each release sees Clements probe different aspects of ASC’s sound. Following on from seminal releases on Silent Season, a label focused on building tracks from field recordings, Clements’ brand of cosmic-voyager ambience has always taken centre stage in his work.

He’s best understood first and foremost as a sound designer, with space exploration as a key aesthetic focus. Weightless and desolate, penetrated by blistering solar-flare drones and scintillating percussive elements, ASC’s work conveys the cavernous expanse of unknown space.

Realm of the Infinite is no exception. Each track shows that same knack for forming rich ecologies of sound, enveloping ASC’s signature polyrhythmic framework. Yet the overall feel of the release seems busier, less sparse.

Densely layered kicks on ‘Black Rooms’ and ‘Perpetuation’ see Clements create a weathering, constant sense of attack. ‘Nautilus’ and ‘Aphotic Zone’ are highlights on the LP for similar reasons. Both see a battery of gyrating polyrhythms, blending with acrid pads to form a writhing miasma of urgency.

Tracks like ‘Nocturne’ and ‘Overload’ offer a sub-heavy counterweight to the fever-pitch intensity found elsewhere on the LP. Nowhere does Clements’ ability to mix a multi-dimensional world tie together as well as on ‘Overload,’ a quintessential ASC track in its jaw-dropping sense of space.

This is a welcome side to ASC, reminiscent of his earlier work on Horo in its floor-ready intensity. Last Winter’s releases on Horo (‘Astral Perception’ and ‘Astral Projection’) flirted with grittier textures, but kept one foot firmly in the celestial expansiveness of Clements’ ambient palette. With ‘Realm of the Infinite,’ ASC channels a weighty uncanniness more suited to the dance floor.

Years on from the first seminal Grey Area releases, it’s encouraging that a full-length ASC LP can still resemble the shock of the new. This is rare In an often monolithic scene where empty nostalgia is often mistaken for transgression. Highly recommended, awe-inspiring terraform tunes from a masterful producer.

Realm Of The Infinite is out now on Auxiliary.

Buy it here.

Words: Alex Davidson

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