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darkstar - News From Nowhere
Darkstar return with their pop-wise sophomore album 'News From Nowhere'. Since generating roots in the early-mid '00s FWD>> scene, and producing subsequent records for Hyperdub and Warp, they've consistently adopted an unorthodox approach, gradually replacing dubstep's physical dynamic with a pop heart and the blue-eyed soul of vocalist James Buttery, resulting an LP closer to pastoral prog and IDM than anything you'd expect from a mucky bassbin. For 'News From Nowhere' they decamped as a trio to West Yorkshire, honing their ideas with some help from Richard Formby to capture a mercurial sense of melodic light and depth as fleetingly sublime as their environment. As they say "This is a totally different record to 'North'. It's somewhat brighter in mood, but deeper in feeling and intention... it's much more rhythmic and fluid. It moves quicker". By careful measures, they've achieved something as close to modern British R&B as pastoral pop with the likes of '-' or the Beach Boys-like harmonies of 'A Day's Pay For A Day's Work', while 'Young Heart's' feels like Radiohead gone folk, and 'Amplified Ease' comes off as an eldritch Animal Collective, yet they're at their best when they just sound like Darkstar, as with the delicate ambient engineering of 'Bed Music - North View' and the dreamily cinematic kiss-off 'Hold Me Down'.