In the one year since he started this project, IMANU has put out so many groundbreaking releases that now most D&B heads barely remember when he was Signal. Far from wanting to bury that side of his career IMANU’s newest extended EP Memento out today on Vision marks another new chapter in this storied musical journey and does it beautifully.
There was only one teaser single for the six-track EP, the lead track “Bloom.” It did a great job introducing the kind of techniques IMANU was working with without giving the whole lot away. Orchestral and ethereal, the intro was made up of tube amp-style synths and a lot of echo effect to get a sort of windy sound over all the various instruments and components.
There are a lot of those instruments and components in “Bloom” and the extraordinary thing about this song is that once the beat drops, all the melodic and ambient elements still stay in place Though they’re moved around and re-arranged, no one part goes away completely. That’s actually only the first extraordinary thing in “Bloom.” Wait until the second drop: a master class in syncopation and beat play, it’ll be fun to see if any DJ deigns to mix that extremely complex part of “Bloom.”
Despite “Bloom” being a good preview, if fans thought it was only going to be pretty melodies and ambient echo-play, they need not worry because directly following on Memento comes “Lucifer.” Dark, deep and somehow still minimal in its beat arrangement, this track hearkens back to the heady days of the chronological cusp of darkstep and techstep into neurofunk. One may almost wonder, given this track and the tube amp sounds on “Bloom,” if IMANU used some vintage hardware or programming to make these tracks. If he did, they’re engineered and arranged in a way that still sounds heavily modern and technically almost perfect. That would also possibly explain the EP’s title – we’ll see if he spills the beans.
Above are just a few of the twists and turns on Memento but really a whole college paper could be written about each track contained therein. “Serpent” play with vocal loops and drums in an almost dizzying way while still being a dancefloor grinder, the title track combines amens with deep, heavy analog synth sounds, “Monchou” cuts up a cinematic rave dancefloor with a chainsaw made of roses and closing track “Come Forward” shows how easily heavy techno can turn into a jump up beat. It’s a study in literally every possible way beats, snares and melodies can come together. Spoiler: there’s a lot of ways.
Despite all his experimentation and sound play in Memento, it’s clear that IMANU still wanted the EP to have beautiful, emotive elements to it, both in the melodies and in the sound design. Even in the darkest bits of the EP like the drops and phrase transitions on “Lucifer” or pretty much all of “Come Forward,” there’s a beauty and a heart to those tracks. Whether IMANU was using vintage techniques or not and no matter how heavy or experimental, this EP was a Memento for that feeling of connection music makes us all feel. It’s something we should remember more often.
Memento is out now on Vision Recordings. Stream or buy on multiple platforms here.