Sabina Plamenova's problem has primarily been one of presentation: just when we think that we've got her measure, the London producer moves on to pastures new. Many will know her as Subeena, releasing spartan dubstep in 2007/08 and, by 2010, robust house on her OPIT imprint. Her own vocals became an increasingly prominent feature, until last year saw Subeena reborn as Alis. Initially the project seemed to have clear pop intentions, but before long, club forms were being drawn back into its orbit. The Hybrids in the Attic album, self-released in December, featured thunderous techno alongside vocal-led pop and the odd icy dubstep number. It was enough to hear Plamenova's fingerprints, but the lack of stylistic focus could understandably prove frustrating for some.
The Azimuth EP, then, is welcome in its singular focus. Released on Don't Be Afraid, this is an unambiguously club-focussed EP, though plenty of Plamenova trademarks are retained. In "You Can Try," tightly layered vocals spiral over a muscular techno thump, while in the title track they function as euphoric breakdown fodder, a welcome respite from beefy, gated snares and a churning Kraftwerkian synth line. Both feature gaseous pads that recall early '90s hardcore techno—their mix-downs are a little murky, making for a somewhat fatiguing listen. "Imperium" is the highlight, proving (as with 2010's "Pictures") that Plamenova is at her best when she lets those thick, metallic synth melodies lead the way. Finally, "Azimuth" proves ripe for D'Marc Cantu's rework; he turns in a typically cool and collected remix, all gauzy pads and flickering grids of hi-hats.
Buy Alis - Azimuth EP at
Tracklist: Alis - Azimuth EP A1 You Can Try
B1 Azimuth (Dâ€™Marc Cantu Remix)
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