Second Flame – A Photo In The Dark (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

As Flair kicks off this small but perfectly formed e.p, blending chilled and spacious dance floor beats with beguiling electronica, you realise that A Photo In The Dark is a musical entity unconcerned with fad or fashion, which is happy to ignore the zeitgeist and would rather follow its own sonic pathways to musical ends of its own choosing. The music is dark and beguiling, devoid of vocals, except for some occasional strange and affected voice as an instrument, and mixes brooding electronica with some unexpectedly buoyant grooves to great affect.

These three songs are arranged to provide an ongoing upward dynamic progression. Opening salvo, Flair, is subdued and meandering, flecked with charming, chiming incidentals and bubbling synths before handing over to Smart Thoughts’ more upbeat ways. Here that same bruised and brooding vibe is driven by some more energetic shuffle-beats and contrasted with floating flutes which add a delicate wash to the darker sounds pulsing away below.

Work Flow Balance, which rounds the e.p. off, lifts the dynamic again, glitchy and futuristic, shimmering and almost non-human in origin, sounding, in part, like a computer teaching itself to write ambient dance music, wonderfully clinical and disarmingly disembodied, and making sonic choices which feel beyond the human way of doing things.

Second Flame is the sound of man meeting machine, but it is hard to say who might be in charge. The result of this digital wrestling match is music which sounds like nothing short of the future of ambient dance music.

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