Second album syndrome is something that often doles out of hand, as if it is the fault of the artist that some sort of internal bias has not been resolved in the eye of the beholder. Let’s just get this out of the way then – where ‘Shred’ was a fine and lauded debut by Bryan Müller, ‘Compro’ is even better.
This is also not an offhand assessment. Over the course of the past few months, ‘Compro’ has found itself invading an ever mountainous stack of promo listening with an infectious desire to be heard. Almost unconsciously, sleepy morning thumbs navigate to ‘Cerroverb‘ and play is pressed for another end to end run through of the album’s mist enshrouded journey. The most amusing aspect of all of this is that ‘Compro‘ was never slated for assessment by my hands at any point. Almost sub-consciously, it has elbowed its way into, and to the head of, the writing queue and commanded attention. With the “what” in terms of calibre established, it is on to “how” and “why”.
At its core, ‘Compro’ feels like an album of classic design, comprising twelve tracks of similar lengths, with no filler, half-baked ideas, or perfunctory concessions at any stage. It has been pitched as an evolution of the techno album and as an experimental electronic journey, the past perfected and a blueprint of the future.
Anecdotally–accurate or not–my observations have seen it been pegged as being inspired by a diverse array of artists, such as Aphex Twin, Boards Of Canada and Burial. Hell, I can even hear a touch of Tom Middleton’s “Cosmos” approach on the dreamy breaks of ‘Flyby Vfr‘. Evidently ‘Compro‘ means many different things to many different people, where in reality it is simultaneously all of these things and somehow none of these things. Trying to pin down ‘Compro‘ to a single concept or influence just doesn’t work, its strength in diversity is realised with an incredibly degree of subtlety.
This is because Bryan has an uncanny knack of weaving seemingly disparate influences together in a fashion, which retains recognisable individuality, yet still allowing them to mingle together as a greater whole. For example, on ‘Via Sub Mids‘ and ‘Soundboy Ext.‘, you find that you are listening to the greatest ambient track you’ve ever heard and the greatest breakbeat rave track you’ve ever heard. Simultaneously. The two should be mutually exclusive, yet exist in perfect harmony.
There is also a quite deliberate approach to each of the tracks. Each is encapsulated and delivered with a great degree of patience. Within them there are moments that can last mere seconds, yet have an impact that makes you feel like the small window of your existence at the time is perhaps the most important thing happening in the world. Moments such as when the splashy break kicks in on ‘Session Add‘ and the little syncopated crash cymbal roll that occurs at 4:55, or the massive rave horn breakdown that happens at the end of ‘Dial 274‘.
All things considered, that Bryan was going to deliver an album that truly pushed into more mainstream consciousness was clearly on the horizon. ‘Shred‘ set the foundations, the Ilian Skee Series whet the appetite and now ‘Compro‘ has blown all of us away. We’ve definitely seen the maturing of one of the scene’s next big artists. The best thing here is that Ilian Tape has plenty more in store, hopefully ‘Compro‘ provides a platform for a wider audience to appreciate the wares of such a well-crafted label.
‘Compro’ LP is out now via Ilian Tape, order a copy from Bandcamp. Skee Mask performs at the Inverted Audio curated stage “Campfire Headphase” at Farr Festival on Friday 6th July alongside Rezzett (live), Terekke, Even Tuell, Nick Williams, Natureboy Flako (live), Cera Khin, Sofia Ilyas B2B Francis Redman. Tickets are on sale now!
2. Session Add
4. 50 Euro To Break Boost
5. Via Sub Mids
6. Soundboy Ext.
7. Dial 274
9. Flyby VFR
10. Muk FM
11. Kozmic Flush
12. Calimance (Delay Mix)