This track, along with Gaiser’s early track 'Neural Block,' is proof that minimal doesn’t have to be cold, empty music, and is far from the dirty word that people these days are making it out to be. Here is a man who can take things to the next level, and if you thought his sound had been firmly pigeonholed in the bleepy shrill whistle effects from 'Neural Block,' (even though that track was oh so good), 'Withdrawal' proves Gaiser is not one to stand still. It's one of the most refreshing, warm, melodic songs I’ve heard in a long time.
One major criticism in minimal these days is that there seems to be so much similarity going on in the sound, and in a way the Eye Contact EP juxtaposes the highs and lows of the current state of the genre. Tracks such as 'Eye Contact,' 'Chlorine' and 'Out of Sort' really are just more of the same. Sparse, clicky, crisp and clinical, they follow the blueprint laid out before and are quite indistinguishable from many things out there. At the same time, it’s fair to say that Gaiser’s productions are just that much more a cut above the rest. There is more kick in his kick drums, and snap to his beats. I don’t know if it’s his mastering, his software (or hardware) or what, but his sound is just that much purer.
But it’s when he starts throwing in some melody and atmosphere that things really start to take off (although would some argue that this is an expansion or elaboration on strict minimal?) The shuffling peripheral sounds, clapping rhythm and haunting melody on 'Withdrawal' will appeal to both the head and heart. My only complaint is that at six minutes, it’s not long enough! I could easily listen to another build up and breakdown, throwing those hands up in euphoric bliss.
This release would have made an excellent three track EP with the additions of 'Sightblotch' and 'Wet Contents' rounding things out. The first is a dark and grooving workout, with a bouncy rolling bassline, sharp icy hi-hats, and spooky sci-fi effects straight out of the '60s. It’s a proper ass-shaker. Minimal with a touch of funk. Meanwhile 'Wet Contents' delivers more of a pounding 4/4 rhythm, stretching out indecipherable vocals to build things nicely. This will go off on the dancefloor. It's quality stuff from a man at the top of his game.
This EP gets my top marks for these three tracks alone, while the others, although they are quality productions, won’t have much staying power (a problem with a lot of electronic music in general). Forking out £14 for the double vinyl for just one track has (almost) made me consider taking the mp3 or CDJ root, but fortunately this EP has some additional depth. Special tracks seem to be few and far between these days, but 'Withdrawal' (along with Carola’s remix of 'R U OK?') will be in my top five this year, reaffirming my faith that Minus are still a force to be reckoned with.