Dance & Electronica
To label Phaeleh’s style – pronounced ‘Fella’ – as ambient dubstep doesn’t really do him justice: the term dubstep conjures images of the vicious and abrasive ‘wobs’, none of which you’ll find here. Trying to characterise his music is hard only because he is carving out a name for himself as an uncompromisingly original artist; distinctly minimalist, and certainly a product of Bristol’s garage and drum and bass scene, Phaeleh employs a clean, sustained and bone-shaking bass to create his signature aqueous tone.
Tides is the fourth album release from 28 year old producer, Matt Preston, and his second through Afterglo Records. While maintaining his downtempo, oceanic style, he continues to push his mixing desk – and clubs’ speakers – to the limit, presenting a varied and well-crafted album interlaced with appearances from several of his contemporaries. Think of it as an ambient journey through the dark and little-explored regions of the overdriven subwoofer.
Not restricted to your everyday synths, Phaeleh frequently uses samples which almost give a feel of the classical to some of his songs. Although this fusion may seem offensive, listening to ‘Journey’, his opening track, may change your mind. The haunting, echoing strings melody on top of the messy break-beat and traditional drum-and-bass vocal samples not only works, but immediately immerses you in the meandering current of the album.
Soundmouse returns for her fourth collaboration with Phaeleh in ‘Here Comes the Sun’, and proves that their efforts only improve as they become more comfortable working together. Her high, clear voice contrasts perfectly with a bass so low it’ll massage all of your muscles. Jess Mills, Augustus Ghost and Cian Finn each feature on separate tracks, not only showcasing their considerable talents, but showing too that Phaeleh isn’t burdened with the ego of many producers: he knows when to take a step back and let a great voice be heard. Working with Cian, a male vocalist, is in particular an unusual undertaking for him, but one which really pays off.
Continuing through the dreamy album, you’ll hear a subtle flute on ‘Tokoi’, classical piano on the title track, and what sounds like a steel drum in the sublime closer, ‘Distraction’; all this in the context of electronic dance music – clearly, having established himself and his style on the scene, Phaeleh is not afraid to experiment.
Phaeleh might be compared to bands like Massive Attack, or producers such as Burial. However, he is also unique, being one of the only non-derivative producer of this kind of music that you’ll find; this album is an excellent perpetuation of the style which Phaeleh has pioneered, while also being experimental enough to satisfy listeners’ appetites for change and innovation. His next album is eagerly awaited.