In the early 2010s, Barnard's debut EP and LP appeared on Rephlex, and the artist was suspected to be Aphex Twin himself. Not so, it turns out, but Barnard (who also hails from the English countryside) crafts similarly agile and complex rhythms in the brain dance vein. After releasing a decent amount of material in the last two years, Laser 80 collects some of his dreamiest sounds.
The EP is an intricately composed streak of rhythmic textures, with a focus on cold atmospheres and emotional melodies. Even on its most synthetic-sounding freak outs ("Q-Express," "Zirbeterai"), the music offsets razored blips and breaks with gently lapsing backdrops. "111Pad" and "Fline," both bottom-heavy electro cuts, have a slower motion to them, with sci-fi details and quasi-ravey piano riffs that drop a soft glow onto the tracks. This soothing energy is something Barnard indulges in further with the EP's end. At two minutes long, the sad, drawn-out strings of "Polynana" set the mood for the beautiful morning rave track that closes the record. "Meadow" is melancholic yet uplifting, layering lulling chords and old-school piano over a speeding electro jitter. Laser 80 is a special mix of mind-tingling craftsmanship that gets at something deeper in the soul.