The storied R&S label has been on quite the roll since it rebooted last year, dropping a steady stream of heady, often bass-oriented releases from the likes of James Blake, Untold, Model 500, Lone, Space Dimension Controller, Pariah, and Blawan. UK duo The Chain doesn't sport the same sort of name recognition as of yet, but its debut EP, Lostwithiel, displays the same high level of quality. Although Dan Foat (who happens to be one of the guys who runs R&S) and production partner Nathan Boddy both hail from a deep house background, the Lostwithiel EP eschews 4/4 beats for shuffling rhythms and explorations of leftfield bass sounds.
"Lostwithiel" kicks things off, and it's a textured, mid-tempo track where the clattering, organic-sounding percussion takes a backseat to the song's punchy bassline and a litany of melodic elements, including ghostly vocal snippets, vaguely Eastern instrumentation, and low-slung synths that glide through the proceedings. "Lostwithiel Dub" dials back the melody but is no less complex, pushing the bass and drums higher in the mix along with an ominous layer of crackling white noise. Rounding out the EP is "Maje," a surprisingly lively tune that filters hardcore-era rave synths through the prism of UK bass. Pairing the track's siren-like notes with some pounding, hyperactive beats, The Chain drives the song farther and farther upwards, leaving the listener waiting for a potentially amazing—or embarrassing—drop. Interestingly, that drop never comes, as Foat and Boddy take a third path and simply allow the song to suddenly melt into oblivion. It's a smart choice, which isn't exactly surprising for a record on R&S.