LAST STEP: Sleep (Planet Mu)


Posted on May 14th 2012 09:46 pm

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Last Step: Sleep

Planet Mu 2012
09 Tracks. 34mins09secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

Aaron Funk may be best known for his often corrosive drill’n’bass and intensive release schedule as Venetian Snares, but he has a gentler side which he has been expressing through his work as Last Step since 2005. Taking on a resolutely more acid-based approach, Funk has issued two albums under this moniker, the first one, self-titled, in 2007 and the second, 1961, a year later, both on Planet Mu.

As its title suggests, this third album is concerned with sleep, something which transpires through the track titles (Xyrem, Rohypno, Microsleeps, Somno), and, if Funk is to be believed, was recorded as he was falling asleep. This perhaps explains partly the album’s rather short running time, with most of the tracks clocking at under four minutes. If Funk is clearly not aiming at the dance floor here, he still conjures some classic early acid house themes, making heavy use of 303 squelches (Mike Paradinas was clearly holding on to the ZIQ303 catalogue number for a special record) which he augments with sparse analog synths and stripped down linear beats. The pace is expectedly much more controlled and smooth than on his Snares outings, which gives him the opportunity to gather fragments of melody and weave them into the fabric of his pieces.

The main focus here though is the hypnotic drive which infuses each track and how it fits in with their minimalist structures. In fact, the two are tightly linked and appear to almost depend on each other, never truly building up much, but keeping a steady flow of latent energy going throughout instead. At its barest (My Off Days, Obispo, Rohypno), Funk’s sound seems to be held together by just a thread and threatens to collapse into nothingness at any moment – Obispo actually does -, and even when at its most ambitious (Microsleeps or Avocado for instance do build up some momentum), this never results in anything more than a few dreamy soundscapes.

Sounding a bit like Aphex Twin’s Analord series under a heavy dose Mogadon, Sleep is perhaps Aaron Funk’s most chilled record to date. Its success depends on Funk maintaining this hazy flow through the whole album, and this is exactly what he does. This never quite was the premise of acid house, but Aaron Funk has just created here a whole album of it to fall asleep to.


Last Step (MySpace) | Planet Mu
Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

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