Photek – Solaris

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

Ever since his arrival on the electronic scene with HIDDEN CAMERA, Rupert Parkes aka Photek has been building a steady following, especially after his tracks have found their way into the mainstream via the WIPEOUT 2097 soundtrack and the Wesley Snipes vampire flick BLADE.

Mixing a variety of styles from big beat, via hip-hop to drum & bass, artists like Photek have been blurring the boundaries between so-called “intelligent” techno / drum & bass and the “IDM” end of industrial (groups like Haujobb and Xyphax).

SOLARIS is his second album after 1997’s acclaimed MODUS OPERANDI, and, while he isn’t exactly shooting off in a new direction, the sound has filled out from its more minimalist beginnings.

Parkes has often drawn parallels between his music and the Orient, particularly Japanese martial arts (as on the samurai-influenced NI TEN ICHI RYU single) – aspiring to evoke a similar sense of grace and brutality in equal measure. The opener, TERMINUS, revisits this territory, with a precision drum and bass assault. The mood continues in upbeat fashion, through the mysterious GLAMOURAMA to the hi-energy house of MINE TO GIVE and the almost garage CAN’T COME DOWN.

But come down ye shall. The album effectively exists in two halves, with the nightmarishly claustrophobic INFINITY and the haunting, brooding masterpiece of tightly-wound paranoia that is SOLARIS heralding a comedown of hellish proportions. After the frankly terrifying LOST BLUE HEAVEN, the beat-less closer UNDER THE PALMS restores the pulse rate to something approaching normal, with a rich sci-fi texture similar to Global Communication.

Eclectic but, on the whole, fascinating stuff.

4 stars