SOPHIE – ‘BIPP’ / ‘ELLE’ (Numbers)

Identity in many forms of music can often be a well-kept secret but this reluctance to divulge the self is perhaps most prevalent in the electronic world. Rather than fully expose themselves, many bass and beats dealing producers and DJs prefer to hide behind a computer screen, an alias and a disguise. It’s almost as if they were previously dealing something else and have pasts too shady to delve into.

Whether that’s the case or not is a moot point, but crim or no crim, concealing your fizzog is a great way to get tongues wagging. The questions of ‘Burial’ and ‘Is he Four Tet (aka Kieran Hebden)?’ have clogged up miles of timeline space on Twitter over the last week. Zomby, the demented dog-loving genius behind double opus With Love, falls in with the likes of SBTRKT and V/Vm by using a mask to keep it strictly notorious.

So it is with SOPHIE, the enigmatic artist behind the latest single release on Glasgow’s bastion of brilliance Numbers. With no promo images, no dialogue and no web presence, his or her character has yet to be outed. However, if SOPHIE in person is anything like the music, you’re going to need to wear shades to interact with them. They make an off kilter kind of dance which is too dazzling to make ear contact with without risk of burning.

The first SOPHIE record, ‘Nothing More to Say’ and ‘Eeehhh’, popped out of the Huntley and Palmers imprint in February this year and made a suitably lurid slash across the bottom ends of the UK’s more turned on clubs. The former was the most addictive – it’s spritely, big room electronic fodder full of grunts and female swoons all squirming atop a bed of musical explosions. It’s breath-takingly good stuff indeed, but ‘BIPP’ shifts the focus away from peak time histrionics towards sonic pastures more lean and tight. The more conventional house template is jettisoned for sweet, metallic r’n’b and echoes the styles of Rustie and TNGHT in its rhythmic slips and sways which skirt around the temptation to throw in a ‘drop’. It’s the logical union of a love for 80s electro boogie and the abrasive futurism of Trap artists but is sweet enough to to have you reaching for your dentist’s phone number.

The other side is the mutant combombulator of ‘Elle’ – which is not so much music as a movement munching on fizzing candy, popping champagne and lurching on the long since dead corpse of dubstep.

As a follow up to Rustie’s Slasher/Triadzzz it’s a great move for Numbers to hook up with SOPHIE on a release which pushes their aesthetic and position as the taste makers even further out there. And it creates even more questions about the musician behind this dance music being beamed back from the 23rd century. It’s barmy and has got me on tenterhooks waiting for the great reveal.

Jim Ottewill

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