Rich yet skeletal rhythm tracks from the US underground.
Between Tripwires and Penetration Testing, Leonce's recent first record on his new Morph Tracks label, we get a pretty clear picture of how this talented US artist has developed since 2017's Insurgency EP on Fade To Mind. Leonce said that Penetration Testing was largely inspired by African dance music, something that was most obvious in the record's melodies. Tripwires, meanwhile, feels more in the lineage of Leonce's skeletal, often sinister rhythm tracks, although there's now a pleasing sense of richness in the arrangements. The best example of this is the title track, where a field recording or sample of a natural environment, like the one framed by security cameras on the record's cover, is the backdrop to a churning 90-BPM groove embellished by a flute melody, a go-to instrument for Leonce.
The other tracks step from suspense to strength. "Quantanoir" is a house jam redolent of rainforests and the early '90s, before Leonce closes the EP with a slap. The New Jersey rapper Ash B turns in spiky verses—"I go harder than every last one of you, you can check my credentials"—over a clattering ballroom bounce. The manic mood takes something away from the EP's overall listening journey, but taken in isolation, "Shade Incarnate" is a stick of club dynamite.