This latest missive from comeback kid Freak Seven (AKA producer Naveed Akthar) is not so much surreal, but utterly bonkers. "Surreal" is a wildly imaginative chunk of dancefloor madness that somehow manages to fuse the low-end, acid-era bounce of Adonis, the slick electro/techno of Random Factor and the verbal nonsense of Foremost Poets. It's borderline insane, but fantastic to boot. Remixes come from Sebo K, who provides a bumpin' vocal version and a brilliantly sparse dub, and Dario Zenker. His sparkling, futurist mixes - part techno, part deep house, part electro - are arguably the highlight of an excellent EP.
Readers with long memories and DJs with a taste for something slightly different are likely to nod in appreciation at the prospect of new Freak Seven material. The alter ego of producer Naveed Akhtar, Freak Seven released a short catalogue of work on the major label-affiliated New Religion label at the start of the last decade. While a good deal of that imprint's output focused on showcasing Detroit artists like Stacey Pullen and Juan Atkins, or producers influenced by the techno from that city - Kirk Degiorgio, Newworldaquarium - Akhtar nurtured no such connections. Instead, his EPs were dense, dark and dubby, characterised by electronic basslines and looser arranging. Despite the fact that it has been seven years since his last release, fans of Freak Seven will be glad to hear that little has changed. Akhtar still pushes a raw, grainy sound, and happily, the only difference is that it sounds even sharper, more defined. "Nano Kids" is a rasping techno track, its beats murky, which provides a contrast with the resonating bleep sequence and razor-sharp, tight percussive elements. However, it's "Feel the Soul" that provides the real reminder of his talents: over a grungy bass and coruscating drums, he lays down disco tinged brassy stabs, adds in a wayward sax squall and the kind of ominous vocal - intoning here 'this is the sound that comes from the machines.... feel the pressure, feel the soul' - that cropped up on late 90s/early 00s prog classics like Halo Varga's "Future". The overall feeling, despite this last reference is futuristic and almost punky, and pretty much unlike any other record of 2011 so far.
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