Dallas-based artist Cygnus has been producing a steady number of releases on labels such as Recondite, Icasea and his own Biosoft in recent years. He’s also put out several albums for Sheffield-based electro outfit Central Processing Unit, inaugurating the label with his 2012 effort Newmark Phase. Coinciding with a recent lengthy US tour in support of Autechre, Radical User Interfaces sees him return to CPU and consolidate his take on crisp, space-leaning electro.
Across four tracks he ventures deep into extra-terrestrial territory, approaching his given style in a manner that’s at turns dark, sinister and playful, each cut dancing around a singular theme. The title track features a jagged, buzzing synth pattern that plays across a simple four-bar phrase, its unexpected notation giving a malevolent edge that’s only undercut by what sound like floating whistles and an airy set of higher melodies. ‘Nexus Telecoms’ opens with a synth gurgle that stands outside bar lines, a growing development that builds into acidic murmurs for the track’s duration. While ‘Radical User Interfaces’ is snarling and serious, ‘Nexus’ is wide-eyed and interested. ‘Arcade Killers’ uses synth washes that become digital trills as soon as the heavy soak of reverb drips away. Despite its title there’s a knowing glint to it, killing the game rather than the player. The eight-minute ‘Electronic Slave’ seems to close things on a sombre note, pitting downward arpeggiated synth blips against searing buzz before bouncing chords lend expansive gravitas, phrases drawn out artistically rather than used for function alone. Overall, Radical User Interfaces feels like a space opera, the soundtrack to a dramatic video game or tongue-in-cheek B-movie.
Cygnus – Radical User Interfaces is out now on Central Processing Unit