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damu - Unity
Damu has been hotly tipped in various quarters of late, and with good reason: his swinging house sound has one foot in soundsystem culture but is most strongly informed by the technicolour romanticism of post-Neptunes R&B and even all the synthed-out techno-psychedelia coming out of the US right now (Laurel Halo, De'eon, etc). Though he's already had releases on labels like Local Action, the young Manc-based producer is relatively new to the game; still, Martin Clark's Keysound isn't a label to beat around the bush and now, having issued Damu's debut Ridin EP earlier this year, they present his first full-length album. It's clear early on that this guy has confidence, as well as talent, to burn - the twinkling, Deadboy-esque 'Breathless' strings you along for three whole minutes before the beat drops. The backbone of the disc is formed by joyous, electro-tropical house and garage steppers like 'L.O.V.E.', 'Don't Cry In My Bed' and 'After Indigo' - the kind of gear that fans of Jam City, XXXY, Redinho will instantly respond to. There's no shortage of grit to Unity though - the unmistakeable diction of Trim armour-plates 'Ridin' The Hype', while 'Cheat When U Compete' sounds like El-B soundtracking Neuromancer - but what really comes to fore in space afforded by the LP format is Damu's more out-there, psychedelic agenda, culminating in the Nintendo fantasia of 'Waterfall of Light', the shuffling, spooked house of 'Maths Is Fine For Sum' and beatless synth-scapes like 'Weapon #3' and the title track. Unity's an apt name for this record, 'cos for all its gear-changes and stylistic shifts, it has a balance and an internal logic that makes the whole very coherent and deeply satisfying. For Damu, it sounds like house, dubstep and UKG represent a starting-point, not a destination; we'll be watching with interest where he goes next.