South London producer Louis Carnell (a.k.a. Visionist) has released a deluge of EPs and singles this year, and this latest effort marks his debut for the long-running RAMP imprint. "M" b/w "Secrets" continues his foreboding line of stripped-down bass sounds, but also finds the UK artist tightening up his production technique without deviating far from his established formula. In a brief nine minutes, Carnell's self-assured, minimal pair of cuts presents itself with little fanfare, but the release is still a worthy complement to September's I'm Fine EP.
With its shakers and hi-hats, "M" starts out sounding like a minimal '80s film theme, but eventually, a sinister bassline eventually sets the mood straight and the song's vocal tones interlock with the percussion. The timbre that Carnell employs with his voiced pads often straddles a border between creepy and sexual, and this single's refrain is concurrently playful and menacing. As is the case with much of Visionist's work, the finely honed percussion excels, and his use of some bizarre delay effects results in a textural glitchiness that somehow churns rather than stutters. "M"'s successes are built from modest means—drum programming, keyed choral melodies with interweaving, airy pads, and subtle bass that barely peeks above the rhythm.
"Secrets" similarly makes use of uncanny vocal presets, but this cut is fairly tempered, as it's been propped on delicate percussion and a liberal amount of vinyl crackle. Halfway in, a sniffle-like rhythm augments the kick-and-cymbal progression, evoking a machine's labored breathing. With a more subterranean feel than "M," "Secret"'s synth plonks seem to emulate dripping basement pipes, and the track's slinky bass sounds cavernous and dulled around the edges. In truth, both "M" and "Secrets" seem like offerings from a producer with little to prove, revealing a main framework early on and only veering slightly over the course of each composition. This lack of dynamism could leave some underwhelmed, but fans of Visionist's recent output will find more to admire here.