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White Noise: Linkwood - Expressions

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Linkwood - Expressions

Label: Firecracker Recordings

Edinburgh’s Linkwood is a producer’s producer. He takes his sweet time with each release, and whether he sets his mind to emotive beatless pieces, bristling analog house or smoky Detroit joints (like his sterling debut Miles Away), his productions are always right on the money. There’s an uncommon richness to Linkwood’s sound, especially heard on the right system, and here on sophomore LP Expressions he offers a wealth of goodness for detailed listeners and cherry-picking DJs alike.

The album kicks off with two fathoms-deep beatless pieces, Sonrise a bucolic concoction of soothing strings, Outside In a more uncertain, but equally impressive, piece of sound design whose melodies roll like clouds and break like thunder, underlined by pattering rain. There’s also an abstraction and experimentation we’ve not heard from Linkwood before, from Coral’s microcosm of chittering melodies to Sigma 3’s filtering rhythms, via the dreamy Reef Walking¸ which rolls and breaks like jungle that’s had its mechanical insides replaced by mist.

Whether these more exploratory tunes are a draw or not will be down to individual taste, but the fidelity and care put into these sounds throughout is beyond reproach. This is an artist who deeply cares about the minutiae of how his music sounds. Besides, there’s plenty of variety on offer, including a few luxurious club numbers. Off Kilter (No Midi Mix) draws on a hazy optimism similar to Lnrdcroy’s excellent debut (which recently saw a vinyl re-release on Linkwood's home imprint, Firecracker), but cast in hi-def with radiant strings and a fleet-footed rhythm that doesn’t skimp on the muscle. Even in his most deliberate dancefloor cuts, the wealth of melody and detail in these tunes is striking. Ignorance Is Bliss (Live Mix) sets a bassline wandering under a gorgeous cloud of synthwork that shifts and coils like water, while the stellar title track Expressions jumps into action with jabbing keys and smoky, funk-referencing synth washes.

It’s been four years since the last Linkwood emission, and six since his debut LP, and you can hear how slowly these tracks have matured, offering a richness and attention to detail uncommon in the fast-paced dance scene, particularly when it comes to albums. Whether you come for the gorgeous ambient meditations, the compelling club cuts or the whole opulent package, Expressions is an album you’re not going to want to leave anytime soon.


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