Boomkat Product Review:
Batu knocks at new doors of club and electronic music perception with an amazing debut album exploring alternate meters, spaces, and permutations of his personalised style and pattern.
As hinted at in 2021’s preparatory 12” of corkscrewing drums and mutable sound design (‘I Own Your Energy’), in recent years Batu has re-assessed his sound from the ground up with remarkable results. On ‘Opal’ he resets the parameters of his music with a dilated, psychedelic purview, markedly emphasising electro-acoustic textural and tonal aspects, and working with Serpentwithfeet’s vocals for the first time, while rendering his rhythms more omnidirectional and unresolved. It’s a bold and meticulously realised effort by one of UK rave’s keenest prism pushers, balancing club music’s technoid sensuality and Afrorhythmic roots with more introspective electronic soul in timelessly fwd fashion.
Unfolding its narrative along psychoacoustic, ballistic axes of exploration, ‘Opal’ follows a mostly instrumentally implied, seamless kind of sonic fictional arc. The title and future-primitive feel of ‘Former World’ with its bowed percussion and GRM-like shocks coalesce into 4th world signifiers of ‘Mineral Veins’, and crystallize into rhythmic frameworks akin to Rian Treanor’s riddmic flux on ‘Convergence’ and the disrupted syncopations of ‘Even Here’. His future-primitivist flex follows into the recalibrated muscle memory tweaks and throat singing-like tones of ‘Atavism’, with ‘Emulsion of Light’ coming off like SAW-era AFX doing drill, sans drums, and cleansing the palette for a gorgeous Serpentwithfeet vocal on ‘Solace’, notably tempering the more dramatic urges to measure.
The final parts reconnect with more sinewy strains of club futurism in the rug-pulling tekkerz of ’Spectral Hearts’ but the focus is smartly kept to “album-mode” with his expressively narrative flourishes of ‘Eolith’ and the deep space projection of ‘Always There’, each setting off this vessel as Batu’s definitive artistic statement and a new high water mark for UK dance music long players.