Photek might call it freedom, but his recent re-emergence often feels like grasping, particularly when the results are so uneven—ranging from the decent ("Slowburn") to the awful ("Aviator"). "Closer," the legendary producer's third single since his comeback, is the first to arrive on a label not stamped with his own name—Pinch's dubstep institution Tectonic. While it's perhaps the most confident return yet, "Closer" isn't a dubstep track, falling in that same in-between tempo as "Aviator" or "101."
The biggest issue with Photek's new material is that none of it really sounds like Photek. The drums are too simple, the melodies are too obvious. There's none of that genius spark that colours his best work; it could be anyone. "Closer" is most reminiscent of Solaris-era Photek, pivoting around hooky diva wails and the kind of polished Reese scaffolding that made tracks like "Mine To Give" so interesting beyond their pop appeal. But it lacks the same drive. The pseudo-epic rise and fall is just sleepy when swung in such humongous arcs, and the sounds are buffed to starkly generic levels, so while Photek's ideas might be as solid as ever the execution unfortunately falls flat. Pinch saves the day on the flip, wisely bringing the track up to dubstep tempo, strengthening the percussion and adding some of that midrange fuzz (see also "The Boxer") to give it some personality. It has all the markings of a "tune," and it obviously comes from a place of cool and learned expertise. Photek still needs some practice if he wants to reach those same lofty heights anew.
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Tracklist: Photek - Closer A Closer
B Closer (Pinch Remix)