If Kompakt is generally a good gateway label for those testing that old critique of drab uniformity in techno music, perhaps Russian duo SCSI-9 design some of the label's most palatable starter sets. This isn't the pejorative remark it may seem; it's a testament to the duo's confidence in their base. SCSI-9 specialize in poppy, hypermelodic tech-house streamlined for swift emotional resonance with minimal compositional frustration, made to warm the couches and cushions before a body in recline can fulfill the task. Their tracks are quickly consumable, but gently persuasive.
Their fourth full-length and second for Kompakt, Easy as Down, sees these talents spread over eleven tracks of lava-lamp minimalism, with subtle nods toward slippery electronica and cozy chillout fare. SCSI-9 forge an effervescent comfort of sounds that blurs the fore- and the background. With its cheery synths and chugging rhythms, "Tu Eres Mas" resembles the permasmile pop of the likes of Lemon Jelly or Underworld's "Born Slippy," while the aptly named "Waterglide" resembles the opaque ambience and strobe-light synths of a label like Traum.
Even when flirting with the floor, the album retains its steady pulse. Lead single "The Rime" sheds bell-tone droplets and echoing synths onto its fine Autobahn glide, while slowly pushing its wind-born melody to the fore. It's the deepest track on display, but restrained to highlight its sly growth, never sweaty or frenetic. "Together" centers on a ghostly wavering and more synthetic bells, but for all its Hallows Eve creepiness, there's a playful swerve to its black cat tone, a sense of buried sensations finally puncturing the surface.
But sometimes on Easy as Down, this assured confidence I spoke of leads to laziness, with SCSI-9 turning out productions that don't stand in place so much as stop breathing. Trying to stretch their music organically, "Vesna, Lastic & Elliot" is more easy- than home-listening, spoiling its shimmering daze the moment the trumpet begins its shrill blare. Elsewhere, "Nothing Will Change It" wastes its gas-leak ambience with generic lounge vocals, drowning the subtler but more thrilling of its parts in a ceaseless sangfroid recital of the title. "Outtro" turns that error on its head by trying to stretch a simple bed of synths into over six minutes of claustrophobic minimalism, but it's too listless for the stern headplay it's trying for. As such, as Easy as Down fades on the foggy morning hush of "Moses' Tale," it's tempting to critique how close SCSI-9 stick to their talent of economy. But given the shit we're in, it's also hard to blame those who tip this foul market to their benefit.
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Tracklist: SCSI-9 - Easy as Down 01. Blue Wolf from North
02. Vesna, Lastic & Elliott
03. Nothing Will Change It
04. Tu Eres Mas
05. Boys Away
06. Easy as Down
08. The Rime
11. Moses Tale
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