Airlock – Drystar

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

Airlock were formed in 1999 when Scottish singer Esra Tasasiz hooked up with a Belgian trio of soundtrack programmers called Renauld Charlier, Pierre Mussche and Ernst Meinwrath, collectively known as Musicom.

The resulting FACE DOWN EP was an ultra-smooth collage of chilled beats and soulful vocals, but it is across the full expanse of an album that this formula works best. And so here we have DRYSTAR, Airlock’s full-length play for the space between DUMMY and PROTECTION in your record collection.

Of course it sounds delightful. DRAMA, SLIPINSIDE and AWAKENING deliver the kind of lush electronics and Galaxy chocolate vocals that have adorned many a coffee table and car advert. In fact, you’ll recognise ALPHA when it creeps across your telly in the forthcoming Renault Scenic ad.

So far, so Sade. But Airlock do have another side to them. Tracks like DJ RISK VS. AIRLOCK and ON THE 2ND FLOOR feature some neat scratching from the band’s touring turntable-wizard, evoking the sound of forlorn trendy urban dirtiness that sold shedloads of Portishead records.

They also throw in some satisfyingly sinister-sounding electronics on the title track, as well as on the jazzy Bladerunner-meets-Spanish guitar of IN THE MOUTH OF THE FISH. It’s hard not be taken with the dark-synth backing of a song like QUIET HOUR.

DRYSTAR is co-produced by Pascal Gabriel, the man behind Dido’s NO ANGEL and this record does deliver similar acoustic / orchestral dynamics. Airlock may have produced nothing particularly new, but it’s an undeniably pretty sound.

5 stars