LIXTP is the lovechild of Test Pressing and Love International. Opening its account with Fantastic Man's debut long player in 2021, we now come to the sophomore release in the shape of 'Escape Reality' from Apiento. Known as Paul Byrne to his mum, Apiento has found himself present at numerous critical junctures of British electronic music. A&Ring for Junior Boys Own and cutting his DJing teeth at London spots like Sabresonic and Club UK, he moved through artist management and onto his own production career (never putting a foot wrong), releasing on Music For Dreams, World Unknown, and World Building.
'Escape Reality' is a classy 6-track maxi-EP that feels like both a natural progression and a bold statement of intent for the future. Born of a year "getting lost in the electronic music we loved growing up" and "listening to "Eye Q sub-labels, tons of early Black Dog and 7th Plain". It's a record informed by those wildly creative years when the UK twisted the techno blueprint into its own shape. The days of IDM, Warp's Artificial Intelligence compilations, and the birth of ambient techno. But make no mistake; this is no misty-eyed exercise in nostalgia. On the contrary, the means of production has changed, and new influences absorbed from the contemporary world of electronic music. As well as looking back, Apiento has also thrown himself into the wormhole of module synthesis and has been paying attention to the modern sound system pressure of bass music.
This EP feels like the work of a proper artist. Sure there are plenty of cuts with the requisite dancefloor heft for the club, but the whole thing has a profoundly musical sensibility. There are no half-baked ambient sketches here; each track has an intelligence, emotional impact, and maturity. When taken as a whole, it's a cohesive, coherent, and deeply satisfying listening experience.
Opener 'Beau6' is pretty. Really pretty. Glistening arpeggiation and expansive pads - the sounds you might hear at the Test Pressing morning sessions at Love International's Croatian festival. But the drums have an edge, punch, and grit, the sharpness that sets off the sweet. 'Axis' pulls us from the light to the shade. A tough, almost stepping, broken rhythm and that mysterious vocal sample before those blissed-out synths smooth things out. 'Those Busy Circuits' - a namecheck for Paul's favourite modular wizards - is all tumbling IDM drums and glorious happy/sad chord progressions. The soundtrack to a sunrise over the city after a night running around its clubs, sampling its nocturnal pleasures.
'Everything Move' is the EPs most overtly club-oriented track: clipped, militant drums, a lean, mean bassline, and nifty, pleasingly discordant bleeps. Scooting along at about 128bpm, this one will do the business on forward-looking dance floors. 'Escape Light' is edgy techno, a wired repetitive loop dubbing out amidst fizzing electronics and cinematic strings. The record closes with 'The Us Frequency,' where distant muffled drums give way to a beautiful refrain, the summation of a life lived through music, that frequency which vibrates all our molecules.
As you'd expect, the whole package looks great too. Paul worked alongside designer/art director Okocha Obasi to create a stunning sleeve and very cool associated merch.
'Escape Reality' is released by Love International Recordings/Test Pressing on 10th February.