Progressive House Reviews

Spitbastard – Fire of Life (CHANGE AUDIO)

French producer Spitbastard is a relative newcomer, but he’s been building a reputation with releases on the likes of Inlab and Traum over the past two years, and his recent work on Univack and Solid Shape has been really special. However, this 6 track mini-album on CHANGE AUDIO represents his best work so far.

‘Fragile Equilibrium’ is first out of the gate, with skipping kick drums and delicate melodies carrying the track until a rumbling bassline and warm, fuzzy bass tones make their appearance. Gentle chiming melodies carry the track into the floaty breakdown, though the kicks soon reappear, tugging the track back towards the floor, where the Spitbastard lets the bass take on a rawer quality as he layers the melodies on again. This is absolutely gorgeous stuff.

The second track, ‘Blinca’, which gets going with metallic clicks and thundering bass, which morphs into a tripped out melody as intricate chimes start to play. The musical ideas interact really well as the track drops into a breakbeat-led, which sets up the second half of the track. Here the bass starts to pulse on the off-beat, topped by trippy synths and washes of distorted sound. I often criticize records for not holding enough ideas back, and so allowing the second-half to be a re-run of the first – no such charge could be leveled at Spitbastard here.

The title track pits a hypnotic motif against crisp percussion, a low-slung bass, and warped synths. The hook is soon taken up an octave, before the track drops into a twisted breakdown, picking up insistent bleeps that add urgency as the track hits its cinematic climax.

‘Fake Moog’ features a biting bass part that propels the track as Spitbastard builds the percussive elements and allows an abstract riff to spiral. This is soon absorbed by busy, rippling synths that hustle the track to the breakdown, where the magic really starts. The ripples become yet more intricate as a beautiful organ melody starts to play, leading to a lovely sequence as the track gets going again. An energetic, buzzing synth line adds tension, before taking over for the first two minutes.

Up next, we have ‘Tumtilla’, which quickly pitches a heavy kick drum over some subtle, cleverly programmed breaks. A low-key bassline sounds out relentlessly as a psychedelic melody starts to play, soon joined by the track’s moody central theme. The lovely breakdown adds further melodies, before a wailing, thermin-like lead leads the track further down the rabbit hole. This is another of the strongest tracks on the release, for my money.

Last but not least, we have ‘Torus’. An unexpectedly soft start sees unnerving, melodies hanging over chattering hi-hats and gentle breaks. It’s a ruse, though, and the track soon drops into one of the most twisted basslines on the release. Thankfully, Spitbastard’s melodic touch doesn’t get lost in the transition, and beautiful string parts and chimes soon start to swell over the track. This is the kind of epic sound that made Spitbastard’s recent remix of Oovation such a delight, and the track works these melodic ideas through a surprising series of starts and stops, building towards the glorious, string-laden outro.

This is an outstanding record from Spitbastard; I usually find that four-track EPs contain at least one or two fillers, and so offering up six without dropping the quality levels once is really impressive. Initially, ‘Fake Moog’ was the standout for me, though repeated listens have nudged me more towards ‘Fragile Equilibrium’ or ‘Torus’. It hardly matters; they’re all worth hearing. 9/10

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