Saturday, April 19, 2008

Cities EP - Millimetrik (RECORD STORE DAY)

Cities EP (Limited Edition #95/150)
Make Mine Music / Chat Blanche Records.

Discovered at: Dr. Disc (Hamilton, ON)

SCQ Rating: 72%

Millimetrik (AKA Pascal Asselin) is one of the few Canadian ambassadors to electronic music who I can name that are still virtually unknown. Although I’d seen his records in Sonic Boom, I never listened in until he opened for Ulrich Schnauss last fall at the Rivoli. His performance was professional and inspiring, although his heavy breakbeats and eerie atmospheres were too easily pinned to Boards of Canada’s repertoire.

However, when discovering an EP released last year called Cities EP in my favourite Hamilton record store, I had to pick it up. Besides carrying Millimetrik’s work in the first place, indie-record stores are great places to shop because artists give them product that big-name retailers are too ignorant of. Only 150 copies of Cities EP were produced (by Pascal himself, I’m assuming), and a glance at online record shoppes confirms that few of these are still up for grabs.

It opens with deep-echoed vocal samples that comprise the beat of ‘Thule’; a track of murky ambience that provides the chill of its cover-art. ‘Vladivostok’ continues with a shuffling beat-pattern, subdued but ravenous, that floats away into the synth-laden ether. Just when you think this EP is settling into a groove of ominous downtempo, ‘Reykjavik’ charges out of the gate with a club-worthy backbeat. It’s a centerpiece that binds the more ethereal tracks together, which is needed as the back-end of Cities EP gets increasingly unstructured. Overall this is an ambient slice of Pascal’s well-honed trip-hop, more holistic in flow than his newly released Northwest Passage LP.

While Millimetrik isn’t working far outside the framework of classic triphop artists from the Ninja Tune or Mo’wax hey-day, he is certainly improving upon it; trading instrumental down-tempo’s affinity for the turntable for long ambient washes of keyboard and treated samples. At twenty-six minutes, Cities is a healthy-length EP that is worth traveling to Hamilton for if you thought your down-tempo days were behind you.

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