Review Antioch’s Umbral EP (with free download)

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Antioch is a Chilean DJ and producer whose Umbral EP has just been released on Santiago’s Dilema Industria label. The follow-up to last year’s Las Brisas EP, Umbral features five tracks which glide through hip hop, electro and dubstep to foster an atmosphere of beat-driven tension.  The EP eschews that hip hop staple, the MC, in favour of synthetic inflections and turntable experimentalism, while sampled vocal effects and airy melodies are laid across the surface. Antioch embraces technological possibility, where less is less, and there are plentiful flourishes, apparent in multiple effects or the shine of his scratching virtuosity.

Opening track ‘Paso la Vieja’ advances a spatial melody across a landscape of carved up vocal samples and bass echoes. It is a compelling introduction to the EP, holding open a drape to reveal the uncharted and challenging you to enter. The next tune, ‘Reencuentro’, glows like some sort of luminescent bug which hovers and buzzes at the same time, observing its surroundings through multi-eyed curiosity.

The ethereal quality that characterises Umbral’s first couple of tracks is jolted by ‘Un Poquito’, which is based far more in the uninviting realm of club-focused hip hop, as a hefty synth riff breaks the beguiling subtlety that characterises the EP until this point. It feels intrusive, aggressive even, and serves only as a platform for Antioch’s turntable dynamism, which excels but is overshadowed by the song’s posturing.

Perhaps this volatile intervention is designed to cause a rupture. On ‘Elba’, the EP recovers the serenity of the initial trajectory. There is a light tenderness to the melody and the spaces through which it flows. It is a futuristic, grownup lullaby of a tune.

Saturated in effects, the last track, ‘Puente’, is the least conventional of the lot. Laser bolts are pinned across gaping chasms while distorted voices call from the shadows. It embodies the indeterminable nature of Umbral, an EP of roaming outlook which largely resists external concepts of genre or narrative. While not always successful in the multilayered application, Antioch has crafted an innovative and engaging record which is likely to deter listeners as much as attract them.

Download Umbral, and its predecessor Las Brisas, for free from the Dilema Industria website.

 


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