The producer's much-anticipated return enters rather more mature waters...
'Slow Knife'

‘Slow Knife’ is the anticipated second long player from Kuedo, following 2011’s excellent ‘Severant’. It’s a testament to the enduring quality of his debut that it doesn’t feel like half a decade since that last album, but both the acclaim that record rightfully received and the time that’s passed since its release weigh heavily on ‘Slow Knife’.

In some ways, this album feels like a more mature effort from Kuedo — though the man behind the moniker (Jamie Teasdale)’s career to date has by no means been a short one. This is a record that appears more comfortable with its priorities fixed on a home listening experience. The industrial menace that defined Teasdale’s earlier work — most notably as one half of Vex’d – appears to be almost entirely acid-washed out by this stage.

There’s very little by the way of percussion throughout, which feels like something of a shame considering Kuedo’s skill for manipulation of drum sounds and arrangements that’s been demonstrated in the past. You can't help but feel that the teasing at euphoria on ‘Slow Knife’ would be a little less frustrating if the thing were allowed to crescendo further, and for some of that drumwork to be incorporated accordingly.

‘Floating Forest’ is vintage Kuedo — booming kicks, skittering hi-hats et al — but somehow feels out of place here. Arguably following in this vein, there’s a real cinematic quality to much of the album. But to the same extent that this conjures rich textures and meandering melodies it also leaves a lot of the tracks feeling somewhat spare, at a loss for a visual accompaniment, perhaps.

Despite this sense, ‘Approaching’ is a real highlight. Rather than being caught hanging, as some of the other moments on the record are, between pseudo-dream sequence material and a sort of sickly sweet synthesis, it employs a raft of interesting, somehow earthy timbres and delivers genuine intrigue as a result.

‘Breaking The Surface’ is similarly impressive, and sees Kuedo extending his palette with respect to the other tracks on the album. It does, towards its latter stages, feel a little too frantic, a little too theatrical for the rest of the record, though, which can’t help but invite questions of whether the release as a whole is lacking a real sense of direction. ‘Lathe’ stands out too — but unfortunately, as with many of the best bits on the album, proves fleeting.

At some point, the droves of deconstructed club music and attempts at cinematic aggrandisement that we've been served up in 2016 are going to need to be put back together into something more tangible and cohesive — maybe even danceable. At least we know Kuedo is more than qualified to do a decent job of it when that time comes.

6/10

Words: Will Pritchard (@Hedmuk)

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