Bookworms (a.k.a. Nik Dawson) may have made his initial splash with the crusty, freewheeling "Love Triangles" 12" for L.I.E.S., but his work this year, which entails two EPs composed with fellow New York producer Steve Summers, has been comparatively mellow. Both of those records, released on Summers' Confused House imprint, are supremely relaxing, finding the producers converging on delicate rhythms and and languid, meandering synth patterns. It seems L.I.E.S. boss Ron Morelli brings out the punch in most producers, though, and Dawson's new EP is no exception.
Still, Japanese Zelkova is far from the hardest thing the label has released, and, while sounding fairly straight-out-the-box, it's certainly more groove-based than some of its punishing, industrial-leaning counterparts. "Malfunction" is essentially a drum machine and an arpeggio, which percolates, sometimes aggressively, through the strutting framework. The title track, meanwhile, utilizes a chunkier, more distorted rhythm, infused with an obscured vocal sample, as bleary tones drift on top. Finally, "Materials" works as a complement to "Malfunction," again pairing bare drums with stabby synth patterns and a monotone bassline. These tracks' reduced construction will make them easy choices for tougher DJs, but they lack their predecessors' trippy experimentation. Here's hoping Dawson doesn't reduce much more; his ability to send the listener down coarsely psychedelic pathways is a major part of what makes him such a promising talent.