Smith's long-germinating debut album, a bodyshock of post-punk techno called Black Body Radiation, consists solely of these sorts of tracks. In other respects it's a new look for the Bristol producer; he's better known for flying the house flag when everybody else in the city was still making dubstep. His style has changed, but the qualities Smith strives for in his music are more present than ever: extreme dance floor pressure, a bold sense of style and the odd madcap flourish nobody else could get away with.
Smith works with a limited toolbox, most of it brought out on opener "Ritual." There's the yammering bassline, the biscuit-tin kick drum, the sweet synth pads offering wafts of catharsis. As with much of his music, the ingredients are retro, but the way they're combined can be dazzling. "Transient Bodies" and "Slow Release" are bruising, steampunk constructions of squalling delay and whipcrack percussion. On the brilliant "Synchronised Bluez," ten-tonne drums offset a serene high-octave melody. "Syrup" forsakes drums altogether, sounding like a spooky John Carpenter score.
Smith's hulking productions are camp enough not to seem pompous, and stern enough not to descend into silliness. The best moments are when he sails closest to the wind, as with the drunken synth-horn melodies on "Black Narcissist." (They bring to mind the cheeky sax line on 2012's "Singularity Jump," another Smith triumph.) But he can play it straight, too, and does so to excellent effect on "Blood Feud," where a tense sub pulse is bathed with gorgeous aquamarine chords. Black Body Radiation aims for extremes of emotion, and it hits the bullseye every time.