Ghosts on Tape "Nature's Law" b/w "No Go"

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In the three years that have passed since Ryan Merry's debut EP as Ghosts on Tape appeared, the San Francisco producer's penchant for rugged tropical bass has gradually given way to a style more focused on the darker depths of churning house and techno. Throughout this period, the bass-centric Icee Hot party—of which Merry is a co-founder and resident DJ (it should also be said that XLR8R editor Shawn Reynaldo is amongst its ranks)—has largely served as both the catalyst and primary outlet for the man's evolving sonic tastes, making it only appropriate that his first official statement with these new aims should also inaugurate Icee Hot's release catalog.

While Merry's genre focus may have undergone a slight shift in the past three years, much of his production personality still marks "Nature's Law" b/w "No Go." His keenness for crafting genre hybrids features on the pair of original tunes offered up here, with the title track running an especially hard-to-follow line between propulsive techno and crystallized house thanks to its unrelenting machine groove and densely layered chords. But maybe more so than his knack for mixed forms, does the sound of these songs seem familiar. Perhaps due to Ghosts on Tape's continued dedication to his Yamaha SU700 samplers (a late-'90s unit revered in certain circles), there's a consistent crunch to "Nature's Law" and "No Go." The drums and bass feel pushed into the red, while the synth tones and flashes of percussion have a crisp high-end sheen, all of which manage to fill out the entire sonic spectrum despite the efficient arrangements—the title track having no bassline and "No Go" operating sans a melody or lasting chord progression. These means lead to extremely powerful ends, and make for a pair of potent productions aimed at dancefloors craving tough, heavy-handed tunes.

The record's latter half takes on a bit of a different tone as Lazer Sword's Lando Kal and New York artist Jus-Ed are enlisted for remix duties. Each producer spins the title tune into a bit more aimless territory, peeling back Merry's driving crunch and spreading the song's elements into wider productions. First, Lando Kal elects to immerse the song in his own bass-minded Berlin techno, and Jus-Ed closes out the EP on perhaps its friendliest note, rearranging Merry's patterns into an almost skipping slice of dense and patient house. While each remixer's efforts are admirable—if not downright solid—none are capable of stealing the show from Ghosts on Tape's standout title track, which effectively sets the tone for the fledgling Icee Hot imprint.