Having afforded the world such an enervating rhythmic wake-up call with both his Hyperdub-released Set The Tone EP and its predecessor, the anthemic "Tarantula," it's a welcome return for Ossie Aneke, whose Supercali EP is a warm development on his combination of skittering beats and pan-genre influence that pricked up ears in early 2011. His latest EP is surfacing on the freshly christened 2020 Midnight Visions imprint, and finds Ossie's fluid electronics spliced in with a more restrained, taut aesthetic than his previous offerings.
Much of Ossie's recent focus of late has been given to Black Orange Juice, his shimmering, house-meets-R&B project with vocalists Paul Black and Orial. Ossie invites them both to participate on Supercali, and Black and Orial step in to offer the same sort of laid-back vocal ruminations that appeared on the Black Orange Juice's recent Back of the Car EP for Somethinksounds. In many ways, the Supercali EP is more of an extension of the trio's languid smoothness than Ossie's previous solo output. "Love Crazy" and "Supercali" both draw directly from Back of the Car, as smooth, reiterated vocal cuts from Black and Orial are layered thick over Ossie's glistening production.
Ossie's break from his past doesn't stop there. Gone is the haphazard, frenetic percussion that gave Set The Tone such an instantaneous, exciting quality. Instead, Ossie delves further into the silky soul recesses that underpinned tracks like "The Power of Love" and expands on their more lounge-worthy qualities. The restrained, string-laden 4/4 of "Love Crazy," for example, demonstrates Ossie at his most mercurial, blending sumptuous strings, jazzy rhythms, and straight-up house. It's certainly refreshing to see an artist relinquishing genre so convincingly as Ossie does here. Previously operating with the albatross of UK funky hung around his neck, the Supercali EP sees Ossie really revel in playing with the capabilities of his sound.
That said, Ossie's malleability was a big part of what made Set The Tone such a fascinating release, and variety is still very much the watchword with Supercali. There's swelling orchestration on "Love Crazy," direct, stab-driven house on "Housedabass," and shuffles aplenty on "Supercali," but there's perhaps little left of the sheer immediacy that made "Tarantula" such a widely lauded debut. What Ossie brings in droves is soul, but where Set The Tone pushed lounge keys forward with enervating percussion, Supercali's stripped-back rhythms march certainly, but often without intrigue. The depth of discernible character will make moments like "Housedabass" and "Love Crazy" an easy set staple for proponents of all corners of electronic music, but sometimes Ossie's relaxed timbre errs sleepily towards languishing rather than electric. Make no mistake, Supercali offers pleasant, unobtrusive listening—it's just lacking a spark of real ignition.