Until last month, Keith McIvor and Neil Landstrumm’s Doubleheart project could have been viewed as a one-off experiment with only one release to its name. Thankfully, they have decided this is the year to dust off the cobwebs and give the world some new material, the first of which was their “Roca EP”. Both of them come from very different sides of the music spectrum, Keith being one half of the eclectic Glasgow duo Optimo (Espacio) and Neil an ambassador of brutal and often abstract techno. However, together they mix a playful yet bleak palette of sounds into ear-perking tunes. One of our favorites from their Nonplus record, “Ache”, was a testament to how well the pair complement each other. The track had just enough of each – full of futuristic electro bounce, colorful synthesizers, but engulfed in a robotic bass more common in darker corners of techno or drum & bass. On their “Roots EP” for High Sheen they followed similar guidelines.
Stream: Doubleheart – Roots EP (High Sheen)
Everyone recognizes bass as the glue (or at least part of it) that holds tracks together and the title track “Roots” has some robust bass tones that remind of us of a couple older Optimo remixes. Built of no more than five or six parts it does a great job of holding our attention and though it has a dark undertone it’s likely to attract the eyesdown crew as much as the proper dancers. “Bruise” is much more indebted to electro, but on the on a similar tip in terms of grit as “Roots”. The two big attractors of this one are the growl of the bassline and synth, which uses a melody and gate almost identical to Joey Beltram’s “Energy Flash”. Fortunately, it’s tastefully executed and works to the track’s advantage. If they subtracted the doom & gloom produced by the synths they’d have quite the skating jam, instead they have a moody piece of electro that when played at the right moment could produce a night’s highlight. The B-sides of this record are just as good, though “Ghent” is the definite oddball of the batch. At a much slower tempo it is surprisingly upbeat, blunt, and straight-to-the-point. Using what we’d compare to a game show sound effect as stabs, it has an off-kilter playful vibe from the get-go. On the other hand, “Blast” ends the EP in stable 4/4 territory, but with an interesting synthetic twist, which sounds like a load of hospital machines that have gone haywire. Even with the shadow that looms over most of these tracks, they seem geared toward adventurous dancers more than record nerds (sorry guys). Though it shouldn’t be, it is really surprising how fresh this duo comes across. Blending their years of experience, they have once again bypassed the trendiness of the music industry and made a record that sounds brilliant.