Takao - Valencia To Venus

by Matt Hacke

In Valencia to Venus, Takao, a veteran student DJ, has again demonstrated an eye-catching versatility which sees him shift to more expansive house atmospheres in lieu of his previous ‘deeper’ work. Having transitioned from last year’s Cellar-Door-Tuesday friendly Hey (featuring Duplex Sound) to a more ambient, layered and at times introspective sound in this four track EP, this plasticity is indicative of a producer who has held residencies as varied as EXIT, Don’t Walk - Boogie! and Hi-Fidelity in Exeter, not to mention others under his previous ElectroSwing alias Francis Red.

The intelligent use of samples here, combined with imaginative beats which draw on a variety of generic sources is crucial to the most successful moments in Valencia To Venus. Opener Abulia pairs a syncopated drum line, which almost reminds me of skiffle, with a driving vocal loop which maintains impetus throughout the track, allowing an organic-seeming development of a well-layered sound. Equally, Cosmopolitan couples a pulsating, instrumental with a reconstructed vocal sample which could perhaps be best defined as a highly minimalist chillwave. The best bit about these syntheses is that their elements don’t jar at all, creating a seamless set of tracks that are extremely easy to listen to.

One could perhaps claim that the titular track, Valencia To Venus could benefit from a bit more brevity as the new-wavey synth heavy conclusion does seem prone to drag, and at just under seven minutes I wonder if it could maintain its good points after another edit. In this sense Ravioli fairs better, being perhaps the most obviously ‘house’ track on the EP, with its six-minute run time allowing it to develop and conclude at an effectively languid pace. Whilst those of who prefer more danceable house may prefer work with a bit more urgency, this is a strong effort by a local artist, and it definitely succeeds as a slice of solid ambient electronic. Whilst this might not be necessarily making an appearance at the disco of Don’t Walk - Boogie!, I recommend checking out Takao’s work both on SoundCloud and live at his various current residencies. With this EP available for free on BandCamp, you can’t go wrong!