That description would also fit the first track on Mnestic Pressure, "Inta Centre." It's a dazed collage of contrasting soundspaces, where Gamble's trademark serene chords ghost through clouds of engine rumble, distant drums, alien shrieks and crackles. But this familiar mood is misleading. Moments later, "Istian"'s snares rattle themselves into radioactive B-boy shapes (it's not the only bit of the album which sounds like Autechre in funky mode). The track swerves into "East Sedducke," a convulsive mimicry of jungle, and then "23 Bay Flips," whose hip-hop-like drum detonations send up gouts of atonal synth ooze. The dreamy sound of "Inta Centre" returns later, on "You Hedonic" and closer "Déjà Mode." But what happens in between is anything but a retread.
Gamble describes Mnestic Pressure as the "terrestrial" manifestation of sounds which, in his past music, we might've heard floating through outer space. In practice this means that, where Koch drifted by in a befuddled daze, its successor roars and struggles furiously, snapping you out of inattention at every turn. This is helped by an injection of new rhythms: techno is replaced by frantic hyperspeed drumwork perfectly suited to the artist's new home on Hyperdub. "UE8" sounds like an electro AI gone rogue. "Ignition Lockoff" is almost trap, its throbbing 808 bass and punishing snares playing Twister with bell-tone melodies. Gamble's music has never sounded this banging.
Even so, Mnestic Pressure's highlights aren't always rhythmic. Melody often steals the show, whether warped and dissonant, as on "Locked In," or sentimental, as in the gentle arps of "A Tergo Real," one of the prettiest moments in Gamble's discography. That track segues into "Ghost," a cool jungle roller of the sort hinted at, but never quite delivered, way back on Diversions 1994-1996. Breakbeats cut and swerve and nostalgic chords sigh over pulsing subbass. It's not super inventive, but it's a well-placed moment of convention on an album of bold, gravity-defying ideas. Gamble has said that Mnestic Pressure is a response to our turbulent times, and an attempt to confront the world rather than offer escape from it. That intention comes through, but the key to the album's brilliance lies elsewhere: in the way it balances fun, challenge and surprise more deftly than anything he's made before.