Over the past five years, Planet Mu regular Ital Tek (a.k.a. Alan Myson) has dabbled in genres ranging from bass music to horror-soundtrack-indebted house. Since 2011's Gonga EP, however, his infatuation with the rapid-fire rhythms of drum & bass have generally been his primary mode of sonic expression. Last year's Nebula Dance saw the Brighton, UK-based producer fully delving into footwork and jungle, and his new "mini-album," Control, is a chance to poke at those sounds' edges. Throughout the EP's eight tracks, Myson combines 160-bpm percussion and ambient textures while crafting a sleek, 25-minute listening experience. Nevertheless, despite his history of dynamism, Control is more of a refinement than a revolution.
Control is a deceptively dense, often beautiful collection of tracks. The format is a nice vehicle for Ital Tek's now-unified aesthetic, and no single cut wears out its welcome. The record bursts out of the gate with "Fireflies." Driven by a tumbling breakbeat and haunted vocal samples, it's one of the more high-energy tracks on the release. Though the tempo drops for a few bars, it snaps back before the listener can catch their breath. Control's title track is a footwork-inspired number with aggressive drum pad work and rubbery synths. It's the closest Ital Tek gets to club territory on the EP, as the music generally appears to be more concerned with chilly atmospherics than danceability. "Zero" is a prime example, as it employs woozy synths and crystalline chimes while taking a welcome detour toward ambient composition. The standout cut, however, is "Violet," whose subtle shifts in tone are a pleasure to behold. The track has a new-age quality to it that makes for a transportive and soothing listen, even as its synths are backed by unrelenting snares.
Control does bear traces of footwork, but Ital Tek uses its touchstones and rhythmic architecture to paint a dreamy picture that ultimately transcends the genre. In truth, the EP has more in common with Machinedrum's recent outings than Chicago-style juke—at least tonally—to the point where comparing Ital Tek to someone like his occasional labelmate DJ Rashad seems a bit silly. While Rashad's work is full of heavy-hitting left turns and chopped samples, Ital Tek takes potentially anxious elements and smooths them over. Furthermore, his combination of clinical beats and human vocal samples coalesces into a sort of sci-fi quality that never wavers, and it's fun to hear footwork elements enmesh so easily with Ital Tek's futurist vision. While Control doesn't bring many new ideas to the table, it manages to further distill the elements that Myson has been playing with, assembling them in a format that's compelling from top to bottom. Put simply, Control is a slick exercise that lives up to its title.