The Livity Sound trio has spent a few years at the absolute pinnacle of forward-thinking UK dance music entirely thanks to its three impressive founders. Their sounds are distinct yet unified: Pev a shapeshifter who works percussion like no other, Kowton a maestro of brutal grime-flecked techno. The third member, Asusu, is a little harder to categorise. This is partly because he’s released a lot less material, but also because his musical traits are somewhat subtler. There’s a patience to his sound, even on the most floor-focused material, a stark quality of a man who precision-hones the perfect loops and lets them roll out. This hypnotic quality is accentuated by Asusu’s remarkable attention to detail in his atmospheres. The closer you listen, the more his tracks have to give.
Now Asusu, aka Craig Stennet, steps away from Livity for the first time since he made his name, inaugurating his own Impasse imprint with a rewarding EP. Serra divides the two key aspects of his sound right down the middle, offering a title track that’s the most propulsive he’s made to date next to three impeccably detailed ambient cuts.
Serra is a writhing, flexing slice of techno, its circular rhythms drawn in strict monochrome, with a bold breakdown purpose-built for club drama. Yet even in his most functional work Asusu’s care for finesse is apparent: a track which consists solely of percussion can only work when those sounds are this textured: you can hear wood, metal and rubber, their timbres echoing as a taut, bewitching whole.
Some may sigh at the prospect of a predominantly techno producer filling an EP with one club track and three ambient offerings, but, unsurprisingly, Asusu is more than up to the task. He achieves the tricky goal of injecting movement and drama into ambient music, as Anglo Skin glistens with misty synth work and crystalline water drops. Angular chords intrude rather than washing in and out, here and on Arrythmia, where they’re laid over insectoid chittering. There’s a suddenness to the compositions that draws comparison to recent Oneohtrix Point Never productions. The EP closes with Low Art, which occupies a similarly shadowy halflight, sketching metallic figures and resonant bass with confidence and a respect for negative space. On Serra Asusu proves himself well beyond the bound of the Livity Trio, a singular producer who seems to care as deeply about the tiny blips as he does the storming kicks.
Serra EP is out now on Impasse, order a vinyl copy from Bleep.
B1. Angle Skin
B3. Low Art