The second-latest release on the OWSLA label is “Phonat – Identity Theft“, and while that may seem surprising considering his past releases (it’s been 3 years since the “Cockroaches EP” came out) that consisted mainly of funky and glitchy dance-based music, Identity Theft has definitely found a good home at the label that doesn’t shun artist who try to do things just a little bit different.
Although way more beat-oriented than the previous releases, the 6-track EP still carries the signature glitchy/cut-up sound we’re used to from Phonat. The beats are still pretty straight-forward, even if the 4×4 sequences have been replaced by more future beat and garage oriented rhythms, and there’s also a bit of classic instrumentation going on next to the multitude of synths.
The departure from the House, Breaks and Drumandbass drum-setting seems to go hand in hand with the addition of more emphasis on an element that is currently very important in the beat-genre, namely the atmospheric melodics. Whereas the former releases contained melodies to add more dancefloor fuel to the tracks, on “Identy Theft” they occupy the center of the tracks, even when they are at their most abstract form.
The opening track Machines Do Care immediately serves you, as it should, with a clear glimpse into the overall sound and style of the EP: The glitchyness of the intro continues over the more Hip-Hop oriented drumsequence, and is joined by sample/vocal cuts and little sparkling synths popping up out of nowhere. The amount of glitching is never excessive, and is also craftily being toned down by the simple but groovy drums and filthy bassline. The effects and stereo-imaging give the track a really warm and wide feel, while never losing balance.
All This Time immediately serves you spacious pads accompanied with deep-space fx, to guide you to the main piano-chords and robotized vocal. These are pretty sweet on their own but get an extra kick when the drums come in. For a second you would think you’ve entered a groovy and slow garage dance-track, but that notion is quickly taken away by the breakdown halfway into the track. There it becomes apparent that the drums are just there to glide the track along, while an almost tech-house staccato synth takes over on a bed of sweeping glitchy synths. At the end the cut-off on the bassline (that you probably didn’t notice in the intro) is opened a bit, giving extra depth to the ending.
Don’t Talk, Now keeps the ambient’esque spacious vibe going, delivering a very compelling melancholic atmosphere despite it’s abstract approach. The minimal drums and other percussion-like sounds are mangled through a lot of effects, sliding forward easily with the long sweeping pads and synth fx. Although the basic setup seems minimal, the intricate but playful use of effects gives the track a very outspoken feel.
To get back in the groove, the synthy build-up Morden Life starts with stands in contrast with yet more straight-forward drums. This time they are put below a little but angsty lead synth. Halfway through we’re treated with arps and more bended synths, culminating in a bombastic build-up just before the drums and bassline lead you to the end. The track just seeps away so quickly, you would never think it hit the 3-minute mark.
Ride The Prejudice is definitely the most dance-floor oriented track of the EP. The silked-up trancey chords appear over a more forefront 2-step/garage drumgroove, and again the melodics are simply more emphasized by the drums in stead of being pushed away. The track ends pretty abrupt, but it’s definitely a tune you’d have your favorite DJ close his set with at the end of the night.
On the title track Identity Theft Phonat continues with the silky melodics. The main chords are so extensive that they could be used for a chart-hitting track, but the choice of synth makes them very trancey and unique. Accompanied by a sweet little lead synth, a phased guitar and a starburst arp, they gently lead you back into a field of slow garage drums and glitchy synths. Put a little pitch-shifted vocal cut on top and the melancholy is complete again, making it a very solid last track of the release.
In conclusion “Identity Theft” is a very deep and spacious release, with beautiful melodics and really elegant but rolling drums. It’s a real pleasurable little adventure to listen to, while some tracks will also work great on the dancefloor. Hook up with Phonat on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud, and get the EP at Beatport or iTunes.