Ajukaja and Andrevski – ‘Rare Birds’ (Levels)

A fixture of London’s DJ’ing circuit for some years now, Jon Rust has also played host to the consistently entertaining ‘No Boring Intros’ show on NTS. Much like his friend Oneman, Rust’s calling card as a DJ is his freewheeling eclecticism, something that’s crossed over into his show and then nicely segued into his Levels night turned label. This same organic way about things can be heard on the second offering from Levels, a lovely little 12″ by the Estonian pairing of Ajukaja and Andrevski.

Although neither are immediately familiar names to UK listeners, the duo boast a considerable musical pedigree in their homeland. Ajukaja (aka. Raul Saaramets) in particular is a veteran of Estonian broadcasting with a resume stretching back to the 80’s, pushing a steady flow of quality underground music as program director of Raadio 2, in spite of the then oppressive Soviet regime that was running the country. A friend of influential English jocks such as Gilles Peterson and the late, great John Peel, here Ajukaja collaborates with long time friend and hardware buff Andrevski for three understated deep-winter analog jams.

Some busy but unshowy analog drum work keeps opener ‘Rare Birds’ ticking along, with a lead synth part meandering along lazily at the top of the mix. Chilly pads work wonders in the background meanwhile, laying on a sensual, mysterious vibe that is accentuated by the intermittent (and apt) sqwakwing of some additional synths. A languid and intoxicating slice of late night deep House.

Although using a familiar House music staple, a sampled piano chord, as its looping centre-piece, ‘Expensive Shit’ finds the twosome exploring some altogether more interesting territory. Once again synth bleeps add to the unsettling ambience, and here they are accompanied by some menacing, otherworldly bass distortion. As the chords crest and fall continuously, the track threatens to burst into a peak time strut, although teasingly never delivers on this, preferring to toy with us through its deliciously tense groove.

Closer ‘Jam Pt.1’ subscribes to that well worn advertising slogan by doing exactly what it says on the tin. A free-styled splodge of gloopy FX and restrained percussion, the bird sounds of the lead track return here, although this time they evoke an almost sickening unease. As intriguingly exotic as it is menacingly malevolent, it nicely bookends an EP that tentatively nudges Tallinn into view on electronic music’s ever expanding horizons.

‘Rare Birds’ is out now on Levels. Buy it here.

Christian Murphy

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