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wzrdryAV - Pacific Greyscale

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Artist: wzrdryAV

Album: Pacific Greyscale

Label: Digitalis

Review date: Apr. 5, 2013

wzrdryAV, the work of one Kelly Naim, comes coughing forth from the same British Columbia scene which produced SEEKERSINTERNATIONAL, whose The Call Below was one of 2012’s most fascinating releases. That album, which was given a second wind courtesy of a re-release by Digitalis, was the first signal of a growing partnership between Brad Rose’s Oklahoma-based imprint and the Transmolecular Compendium, a mysterious, vaguely-defined collective of which both SKRS and wzrdryAV are members. Add to this the rise of Silent Season — a local label founded upon a “connection between deep ethereal music and the rain forests of Vancouver Island” — and Canada’s pacific coast is suddenly awash in dub techno.

Initially released in a minuscule edition of 50 cassettes, Pacific Greyscale is currently available digitally, padded with nearly 30-minutes of bonus material. The Internet-age ability for titles to live beyond their print cycle — even if born of anti-piracy efforts — is a blessing, since Pacific Greyscale deserves to be heard by more than a few dozen hoarders of dusty C60s.

“Waves & Spaces Phase 1” features an intro of salt spray hiss and an off-kilter, spinning loop which burns away like morning fog revealing a nodding dub beat. “Summer Drone Phase 1” tweaks the formula by doing bigger and deeper. Here, mechanized handclaps crackle behind a ping pong ball-like rhythm while swaths of bass shift in the background. The rest of the album continues similarly, trading mainly in late-afternoon ambiance with the occasional detour into rather more aggressive moments of deeper canyons and thicker shadows.

Those who spring for the bonus track laden digital version get three additional cuts, two of which offer a perfect primer on the subtle variations which make Naim’s productions stand apart from the pack. “Green Malay” may be the biggest track here — one where the ambient/bass balance is tips towards the muscular lurch of Deadbeat’s slower BPM club crawlers. “Waves & Spaces Phase 3” adds a disorienting pulse of static and eerie keys.

As a genre, dub techno is built of curious cross-pollination, and with Pacific Greyscale, wzrdryAV make one of the most compelling statements yet from a scene consistently building upon its promise.

By Ethan Covey

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