In a way, the music contained within UK producer Alice Ant's debut EP is actually more straightforward than one might expect, given the artist's enigmatic presence. Ramp has been teasing his existence for several months already, touting him as a new signing in mailshots that refer to him as an anonymous, makeup-clad innovator of haunting electronic music, although very little has been offered in the way of concrete details or actual music. With a bit of research, his roots can be traced back to now-deactivated Facebook and SoundCloud pages of Little Black Ant—an unsigned artist who picked up a minor amount of hype amongst the tail-end of the post-dubstep wave around 2011—but beyond that, the trail goes cold. Yet whilst this cryptic introductory narrative, combined with the dark and minimal artwork supplied with his debut EP, might conjure the image of some sort hauntology-inspired drone artist or willfully obtuse electronic oddball, in reality, the four tracks on Alice Ant's debut are disarmingly melodic and direct works of surprisingly upbeat music. That's not necessarily a bad thing; while Alice Ant's music might not be as revolutionary as some of the press-release descriptions would proclaim, it is nuanced, detailed, and very assured.
Lead track "I Want You" blends a crisp, garage-inspired beat with a clutch of interlocking, percussive synth lines that recall someone like Koreless at his most upbeat. There's a pleasant subtlety to the whispered vocal lines that drive the track, and the detailed bed of raindrop-like found sounds that lays beneath the composition is similarly gratifying. "Building Lights" treads upon similar territory, combining rhythmic vocal syllables and sidechained synths with a spacious, shuffling beat to create a track that comes off like a warmer, more absorbing version of the reverb-inclined post-dubstep template.
It's the release's second half that provides its standouts, however. Both "And Oh" and EP closer "I'm Happy to Be Sad" dial down the energy a little while trying on more laid-back, summery house grooves. The former keeps the vocal hits and percussive synths of the two tracks that preceded it, but uses them to create a more relaxed and melodic patchwork of cinematic keys, resulting in something that brings to mind classic turn-of-the-millenium Kompakt releases. The EP's final track, meanwhile, layers on thick, major-key synths and a buoyant 4x4 rhythm to provide the release's most all-out joyous moment.
Separated from the slight hyperbole of the backstory, this first move from Alice Ant is hardly game-changing stuff. It is very well produced though, and undeniably enjoyable throughout. It might not be the most unique debut to emerge this year, but there's enough here to make us curious to see what Alice Ant will do next.