In 2009, London trio Darkstar was the center of some attention, with single "Aidy's Girl Is a Computer" being included on several lists of the year's best tracks. Released on Hyperdub, the song was timely, its post-garage vibe smacking of contemporaries Burial, Four Tet, et al. Revisiting it now makes "Timeaway" stand out in comparison. Where "Aidy's Girl Is a Computer" was relatively straightforward, "Timeaway" sheds the DJ-friendly sheath and is more like an evolution of the group's less-lauded material.
In fact, "Timeaway" finds more than a little common ground with Radiohead's "Kid A"; a twangy music box comes up to speed slowly and provides an underpinning to hyper-affected vocals and barely shuffled, marching cadence rhythms. The ticking of a clock pans back and forth throughout, while airy vocal pads give an icy texture to the otherwise calming timbre.
In a clever appropriation of the single format, the 12" version of "Timeaway" offers a sampling of Darkstar's album with a series of 10 locked-groove loops—each drawn from one of the forthcoming tracks. At a scant few seconds, these samples are obviously more statement than practical preview, but they offer glimpses into some texturally rich moments and the accompanying YouTube iterations drive this point home with some trippy, barely moving video of the trio.
While not breaking wholly new ground, "Timeaway" is engaging and beautiful, showing real songwriting chops. Clocking in at just over a tidy three minutes, it speaks to the group's stylistic shift over the last few years that this is single material; not that long ago, it might have wound up as one of the deep cuts on the album. Darkstar is finding home in a more introspective arena, and it's a welcome progression.