On April 7th electronic luminary Nathan Fake presents the new longplayer ‘Crystal Vision’ on his own Cambria Instruments imprint, which features collaborations with Clark and Wizard Apprentice.
This is music for music’s sake – recorded without angles, agendas and themes – so Fake was free to simply continue honing his craft and express himself non-literally. Aptly titled, there’s a clarity of execution and ambition, and a peak effectiveness to the record that just sounds right.
Continuing to set a personal bar higher and topping his own best, the mark of master craftsperson is everywhere, but that doesn’t mean it’s polished; There’s plenty of rawness evident, with spiky sonics keeping ears on high alert – full of endorphin-flooded rave energy.
Following a short, scene-setting ‘Arrival’ – a simple major chord arpeggio played on a Jupiter 6 which sounds like curtains opening at dawn, things begin apace with ‘The Grass’, which hurtles like a precision-tuned bullet train through Arctic tundra. The undulating effect of compression is emphasised by the classic techno trope where 2 rhythms jar yet interlock, creating an exquisitely disorientating strobe-like flutter. On the track’s guest, Fake comments, “I fell in love with Wizard Apprentice's ‘I Am Invisible’ and felt our musical styles were similar. Their vocals are smooth and clear and sharp at the same time. They’re like a calm within the storm.”
Inspired by Italo disco but sounding wholly alien and futuristic, ‘Vimana’’s fizzing buzzsaw arpeggiated bassline, popping snares and bright whirling melody are equally an electro trance melange, with an effervescent major chord Arp that kicks in midway.
Reminiscent of what used to be called ‘funky techno’ but with sparklier sounds, ‘Boss Core’ blinds like sunshine bouncing off ice. Using his trusty Boss DR550 drum machine, and inspired by Autechre's ‘Vose In’, the track peaks by reaching that melancholic/euphoric axis for which he is loved.
With chugging slow breakbeats not a million miles from Board Of Canada or trip hop, ‘Crystal Vision’ rolls along, with the melody opening up, revealing more hidden notes as it progresses, building into a fractal, kaleidoscopic mosaic.
An emotional outpouring with serotonin surging through the circuitry, classic breakbeats and layers of lazers, ‘Bibled’ has all the hallmarks of a classic. This is a bonafide festival-set closing, hugging-your-mates, moment – or, with its guitar solo, “a power ballad” – as Nathan calls it.
A minimalistic moment of calm midway through the album, ‘CMD’’s gently comforting dreamscape is conjured with FM stacked and detuned sine waves which are left to breathe, whilst the chunky Chicagoan house jack of ‘Hawk’ brings to mind classic Relief records, but even more detuned and wibbly, and laden with synths.
As the title suggests, ‘Amen 96’ is in Fake’s own words, “me having a go at jungle. I grew up listening to it, and I remember as a teenager it sounded like the most intense and otherworldly music ever. It still does. This track is an experiment to see how my melodic style works against amen breaks”. Closer to the braindance end of the spectrum than ‘proper’ jungle (and all the more interesting for it), Fake channels the spirit of Squarepusher but makes it his own, brimming with melodious twinkle.
A collaboration with Nathan’s close friend and genuine musical hero Clark. ‘Outsider’ finds this dream team alchemising pure gold that’s bigger than the sum of their parts. Skittering, intense, far-reaching end epic, the pair close proceedings on a grandly dramatic note. In 2020 Nathan released the album ‘Blizzards’, which was described by The Quietus as “his best work”, and “his best LP yet” yet by Resident Advisor. The equally well received ‘Blizzards Remixes’ EP which featured Afrodeutsche and Irene Dresel followed in 2021, as did a nationwide UK tour.
An in-demand remixer, Fake has added his magic to tracks by Radiohead, Clark, Perc, Jon Hopkins, GoGo Penguin, Dominik Eulberg, Christian Löffler and Damian Lazarus, working for labels including Ninja Tune, Domino, Warp, Blue Note and Kompakt.
Published: 22nd February 2023