It’s been an interesting path for Sabina Plamenova. Moving between the worlds of dubstep and techno, featuring on Surgeon’s Fabric mix and collaborating with Jamie Woon (the pair met at RBMA 2008), she then drifted towards tough house music, often peppering tracks with her own abstract vocals. This led her to establish a new alias, Alis. She released the wonderful “Hybrids In The Attic” album late last year, and now she’s teamed up with one of our favourite labels, Don’t Be Afraid, for the “Azimuth” EP. It kicks off with the powerful stomp of “You Can Try“, its three-note phrases parading around with powerful grandeur. It’s a barrage of elements, hard-hitting kicks, sonic blasts and Alis’s floating vocals. After a percussive break the main theme returns, albeit in a less intimidating fashion, acting as a coda of sorts before wistfully disappearing in a sea of reverb. It’s quite something, although it’s hard to tell if this is aimed at the dancefloor or the headphones – it’s too slow for many a floor, but it’ll do more than just get your foot tapping while you’re on the train to work.
Stream: Alis – Azimuth/Azimuth (D’Marc Cantu Remix)
The EP’s title track is an expansive cut that’s swathed in chunky electro sounds, wallowing in giddy 80s kicks and bleeps that swarm like bees on a sunny day. Half-way through we’re pulled down a tunnel of emotion, with violent, swirling synths combining with more hazy vocals. It’s hard to call these tracks songs, as the vocals act almost as an additional instrumental element rather than a standout point. Remixer D’Marc Cantu takes those swirling synths, muffles them and builds a gripping house jam around them. It’s a deep loop of funk, one that you really wish would go on more than just the paltry five minutes we’re granted here. With its fizzing bass, and a dark pendulous two-note phrase that hangs over the track, it really commands your attention. “Imperium” is a languid disco groove, incorporating those harsh yet infectious synths explored in earlier tracks, perforated with strident semiquavers up and down the octaves. It, and the record, comes crashing to a close, like the breakdown of a computer or a carousel jerking awkwardly to a halt. Alis took part in the great DBA takeover of Boiler Room back in October, and you can get a glimpse of these three originals towards the end of her wonderful set. It’s the perfect manner to taste this release before you get your hands on the whole thing
Stream: Alis Live in the Boiler Room
Alis – Azimuth EP is out on Don’t Be Afraid this month