Experienced producer in a - dare we say - back to basics approach...

"I'm not the kind of person who can stand still musically at all," Scuba once mused in a Clash Q&A. "You've got to move onto something else, otherwise what's the point?"

Paul Rose's latest to tow an evolutionary line from debut 'A Mutual Antipathy' - through follow up releases 'Triangulation' and 'Personality' - is a mixture of direct techno tactics, the lowering of abstractions and the avoidance of wandering in and out of styles. Whisper it quietly: it's almost a back to basics approach.

The album kicks on from Scuba's 'Phenix' series of EPs and is ready to wind you with its hobnail boots polished, no questions asked. Intervening periods of atmospheric build-up and found sounds (the 'Family Entertainment' skit processes several tantrum-throwing babies) allow you to dab your brow, recharge and come again.

Yet on the other leather-gloved hand, 'Claustrophobia' possesses moments of trepidation, wearing shadows like a second skin; such as the prowling 'Drift' or the surprisingly non-mawkish 'All I Think About Is Death'.

Scuba stays limber, dispatches a perfectly weighted build-up on opening track 'Levitation' that sends you down a black hole, but with the intention of letting you exit out of the other side. Hi-definition abstinence from the grungy or dungeon-bound, the album projects vast underground expanses rather than solitary confinements - plenty of breathing space envelopes the progressive, acid-flushed 'Black On Black', for example.

Scuba's interpretation of 'Claustrophobia' - as a unit of close knit containment - means the Hotflush man is going to be hard to beat this year.


Words: Matt Oliver

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