Manchester's Paleman is the latest young upstart to be championed as the future of UK underground. The 19-year-old's stock has been on a steady rise since his productions first emerged, delivering a buzzed-about mix for Mary Anne Hobbs' XFM radio show and, among other things, having an original tune appear early on in Disclosure's impressive FACT mix shortly thereafter. Now, Paleman has been tapped for a three-track debut (which also marks the inaugural release of the Fulcrum imprint, a label co-run by fellow Manchester resident Damu), and fortunately for all parties involved, he delivers an EP as solid as the hype which preceded its arrival.
The All Good EP continues along the established path of the current UK scene, blurring the lines between techno, house, and garage for a structurally sound hybrid. Paleman's slant is heavily steeped in techno lineage, and each production here is muscular and thick, its sonics pushed to their furthest potentials in order to completely fill the space made available by the relatively sparse arrangements. There is no outright melodic content to be heard over the three tunes, and aside from the snippets of vocal hooks which tag each song, it is the percussion—tuned and laid out in repeating patterns—that is about as close as Paleman gets to a lead, leaving the low-end content to largely define each song. This part of the frequency spectrum is full of body, as—taking cues from Berlin—the basslines roll and turn, at times almost approaching a snarl, reinforced by chorded stabs which are used to play off the intertwining patterns of bass and drums.
With each new track, the EP seems to incrementally add to its intensity. The title tune kicks off the affair with a slight shuffle, led by tuned hand drums, rolling rim shots, and processed chops of miniature percussion. Once "All Good" sinks into its groove, it doesn't venture off too far for the rest of its run. "Hunt" takes a step into slightly darker territory, bringing the tempo down from the high to the mid 120's, and presenting a combination of percussion which takes on a noticeably larger form, dipping into lower octaves and taking on a more sinister tonality. Finally, the appropriately titled "Slither" completes the trio, enhancing its restless bassline with a slight acid growl and sporting even heavier drums than its EP counterparts. The closing tune also offers up a bit more atmosphere than the others, manipulating a group of dark tones into an undulating loop, reinforced by touches of dense chords and the occasional filter tweak.
From beginning to end, All Good is packed with robust, forward-thinking club fare. The tunes are a touch stark, but Paleman manages to make his stripped-back approach never seem lacking. These are pummeling rollers, propulsive in their execution but extraordinarily clean and precise in their sonic makeup, making for an impressive and unexpectedly refined debut.