The fourth EP to arrive from London trio Dark Sky is yet another four-track effort offering various takes on low-end-focused, dubstep-informed, soundsystem-specific club music with an emphasis on unique, high-quality sound design. For the most part, the Myriam EP manages to keep things fresh with its forward studio tricks, uncommon sound palettes, and clever song structures, but it's sometimes those very same bells and whistles which get in the way of a potentially excellent tune.
To date, "Neon" remains Dark Sky's best production, and the record it's lifted from, the XLR8R Pick'd Radius EP, is still the outfit's highest achievement. Granted, at the time the music was produced, Tom Edwards, Matt Benyayer, and Carlo Anderson weren't at the same level of notoriety as they are now, nor did they have as much of a back catalog; the guys didn't have a lot else to worry about outside of trying to make well-crafted tunes that people could connect with. Now, the pressure to best their previous output and push forward their identities as producers is much higher, and Dark Sky has risen to this challenge by eschewing the simple effectiveness and resonant melodicism of its earlier work for something a bit more heady and belabored.
Much of the Myriam EP pushes an abundance of strange sound effects and unconventional arrangements without much in the realm of infectious hooks or basslines—often bringing to mind the skeletal drum workouts of Pearson Sound. After a lengthy intro made primarily from boomerang claps and stereo-widened kicks, opener "Shutter Speed" settles on a heavy groove comprising little more than those aforementioned sounds and some ticking hi-hats. An impossibly subtle chord progression eventually finds its way into the bare-bones mix just before the track ends, though it hardly manages to leave an impression. "Hequon" is also entirely reliant on razor-sharp production and a bespoke drum kit. The music undoubtedly sounds great and will likely move just about any forward-thinking dancefloor, but very little lingers once these two cuts are over.
"Shades" is easily the strongest and most effective of the four tracks, and, at eight minutes, is also the most substantial. It's the kind of production that made Dark Sky such an enticing outfit from the get-go, a powerful bass- and drum-heavy tune with just the right touches of moody atmosphere and day-glo melody. Admittedly, "Shades" takes its sweet time getting to the point and isn't at all the kind of hit-you-over-the-head choon one might hope for from the London trio, but it does offer a balance of desolate soundscapes and remarkably funky dancefloor grooves that exudes explorative maturity.
By the time "Gaddagive" closes Myriam with its grimy, next-level dubstepisms, it's clear that Dark Sky has achieved at least one thing with its new record. Between some left-of-center experimentations and a few original tweaks on more classic sounds, Edwards, Benyayer, and Anderson are basically updating the world on what they've been cooking up in the studio. And it's always great to hear their latest concoctions, even if they leave the impression that they're only a step towards bigger and better things.