Nathan Fake – Blizzards (3 stars)

Nathan Fake – Blizzards

Fifth album from the Norfolk producer offers a solid but varied collage of different ideas and experiments

After a brief turn with Ninja Tune in 2017, Nathan Fake is back to his own label for his fifth album Blizzards. The ambient Norfolk producer has built a track record over the last two decades for merging his own experimental synth work into rural England's tradition of pastoral ambient techno.

Blizzards was recorded in one live take. Technically impressive, though the coherence one might expect in such an undertaking is oddly missing. Instead we have a solid but varied collage of different ideas and experiments Fake confidently teases out while passionately wearing his influences on his sleeve. Orbital-esque pulsing ambient waves sweep their way through 'Pentiamonds' and opener 'Cry Me A Blizzard'. Boards of Canada style synth rhythms emerge and reemerge across the record. The unpredictability and manic-slash-chill dichotomy of Aphex Twin acts like a shadow ancestor, impossible to recreate but with clear lineage on lead single 'Tbilisi' and later on 'Vectra'.

Later we start seeing the more striking styles Fake has given life to over his career. 'Torch Song' and 9-minute 'Firmament' develop patiently, showing off well constructed ambient beats with a swaggering sonic percussion. His love of older rave music is clear in 'Stepping Stone', and perhaps in the right tent at the right countryside festival it could set off a crowd. 'Eris & Dysnomia' starts off similarly before moving into hypnotically looped melodies and low-key polyrhythms.

With such a medley of different ideas, it's hard to nail the whole album down into a single, emotive experience. Though it winds down calmly with drone closer 'Vitesse', it tantalisingly eludes the immersive grab of the heart that such electronica is powerfully capable of. Perhaps this is intentional, but regardless, Fake's talents and originality are solidly on display. If he keeps producing music for years to come then British music will be no worse off for it.

Out now on Cambria Instruments.

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