Recommended: Fuewa – Birth Palace

Fuewa is the new project from Dorset native Chris Sallows, who’s previously released for Svetlana Industries as Microburst. His work under that name was fuzzy yet structured dancefloor music, combining crisp percussion and basslines with hazy atmospherics and found sounds. The “Birth Palace” EP, the fifth release on Sonic Router Records, sees him eschew any rigidity for more ambiguous tones, leaning towards the world of ‘outsider house’. Following in the footsteps of label mates Hav Lyf and Torus, this EP is another foray into the nether world of dark and murky textures and sounds.

Stream: Fuewa – Birth Palace Preview (Sonic Router Records)

Blhok” opens with a portentous gurgling, crashing cymbals meeting chugging percussion. It’s structured around a simple, lovely four-bar riff that’s shrouded in scuzzy percussion and effects, countering its sweetness with a rough whirlwind of bleeps and clangs. Never straying from a strict 4/4, it is nonetheless a stirring opener, one that would easily terrify an unsuspecting dancefloor. “Outa Banks” is a deeper affair, using a stark two-chord refrain that wouldn’t feel out of place in a horror film to drive through the gloomy undergrowth. Rattling drums meet with painful moans, adding to a chilling sense of dread. “Undress Invert” continues with this ominous theme, as pitched-down spoken word meets a sorrowful riff that cascades over echoes and roughly hewn percussion. “La Void” is well titled, opening with the unsettling sense of a world collapsing, before it kicks into a plodding beat and a simple drone, with unspecified vocals buried deep in the mix. A series of squeaks that almost sound scratched in lighten the darkness briefly, yet the thumping beats and clanks survive longer than all else, drifting off into oblivion.

Time Paint” is a particularly impressive piece of work, starting with the sound of a dark windstorm, a sea of arpeggiated bleeps at no fixed tempo swirling around in the current, wafting back and forth across the skies. The distant sound of percussion steadies this aimlessness, as dark moans terrorise the background. Strained synths clash with a humanoid grunting, building on the thematic structure laid in place by that wandering line of bleeps, which sees fit to return to close out proceedings. If hav lyf’s album finished with the sound of a dying dial-up modem, this release concludes at the site of a long-abandoned factory, its machinery come to life to cry out for love and repair. “Black Illusion Fall Out“, which rivals Actress in the amazing title stakes, offers no release, no catharsis. Instead we’re left lonely and mournful, with a feeling akin to that after the experience of Tomorrow’s Harvest, a similarly apocalyptic effort. Cranking machinery, Popol Vuh-esque droning, the fizz of a scorched earth – this is not a cheery record. That said, it’s a bold statement, a dark world view clouding a brave talent. If Fuewa marks Sallows’ move away from the dancefloor, it’s a considered success. Another great release by Sonic Router, whose reputation is bolstered at every step.

Fuewa – Birth Palace is out on Sonic Router records on July 1. Pre-order here.

Aidan Hanratty

Dublin ...