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Album Review

Bola's continuing explorations in the world of experimental electronic techno have helped make the Skam label's name in part, though at the same time his work can often seem like adherence to a style instead of a full exploration of it. Happily, on Kroungrine he steps forward with what is probably his strongest full-length yet, with the opening "Zoft Broiled Ed" in particular showcasing the way — rarely have his synth-crunching and skittering beats sounded so sleek and sly, as if he were soundtracking Miami Vice rather than Blade Runner. Perhaps appropriately, then, the album very much flows together as a piece, songs easily leading into the next and suggesting a progression through an alien nightlife both strange and familiar (much like the album cover art itself, for instance). The bass plunges and snappy breaks on "Rainslaight" easily mix with the piano melody in a way most downtempo releases just can't quite manage, while "Diamortem" makes for an excellent album-ender, moving through a variety of low-key styles over its length to conclude on a note of percussion-less (but not rhythm-less) meditation, a final cryptic ingredient. Many other individual moments can be mini-masterpieces — "Waknuts" builds into an epic whomp of a song, its increasingly assertive breakbeat matching the gentle rise of the main melody to create an affirming drive, immediately followed by the calmer, deep house-touched slink of "Halyloola." It's a treat to see Bola reach this new level of accomplishment all around, and the future now looks even brighter for his approach than ever.


Genre: Electronic

Years Active:

Manchester's Bola is Darrell Fitton, whose 1995 debut 12-inch for Skam under that name helped shoot the now-collectible label to underground notoriety. Although the first of Fitton's released tracks appeared on the Warp label's Artificial Intelligence II compilation in 1995 and displayed the same style of chrome-dipped melodic techno adhered to by many Warp artists, his subsequent Bola material focused in on a heartier, less accessible aesthetic. His self-titled Skam EP combined vaguely funk-fueled...
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Kroungrine, Bola
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