Ekster, the Belgian label responsible for those beautiful EXO comps, are sparing with their output – last year their only release was an EP by the unfamiliar Milan W. This is fairly typical; the names are niche (with the exception of DMX Krew and the EXO contributors), the music is beautiful – explorative, surefooted and arresting, as is the accompanying artwork, and the sparse release schedule gives each release space to be digested and appreciated. The result is a catalogue which feels more like a collection, carefully curated and valuable.

The plane Ekster occupies is haunting, hypnogogic, and wise; built of perfumed ambient and exotica, laced with dub fx and bent circuits; gentle neo-classical and musique concrete, occasionally interwoven with jittery rhythm; dense electronics, soft, modulating waveforms layered into immersive and emotional environments, or more hard-edged/far-out worldbuilding.

SFV Acid’s LP is a bit of a curveball. It’s bold and bright, busy with detail and ideas – tapping old Ninja Cuts and SKAM artists (see Luke Vibert, Bola, Gescom). Autechre or AFX come through with the thick, satisfying synths and glitchy/choppy beats, but the loose noodling of a couple of tracks perhaps situate them closer to Squarepusher. Between breakcore and IDM.

‘Oops’ straps off-key chimes/fisher price synths into a fast-paced and just fragmented rhythm, resulting in a lullaby for junglists. It rolls along swift and innocent before digressing briefly to meltdown (met with polite applause) – picking itself back up to return to the sweet chimes like nothing happened.

Fire Zone is out May 7th on Ekster – pre-order here.

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