Clipped vocal snippets, warped keyboard sounds, lush filtered beats. These nine words aptly describe Skoud’s Systems and Drafts, the first major release from Cumbria-based label Motivesounds. However, this long player deserves much more than a cursory listen, such is the talent displayed throughout the 35 minute trip inside the mind of its creator, Swedish musician Simon Koudriavtsev.
Indeed, Systems and Drafts is a beguiling work which reveals more upon repeated visits. The opening tracks are reminiscent of early minimal Aphex Twin releases, and it’s not until the third track that Koudriavtsev really shows his true talent. ‘System 25’ leaks out of the speakers in ever-increasing amounts, the beat gradually building before escaping into the ether, perched upon a melody Boards of Canada would be proud to call their own. It’s an impressive gambit, and one that immediately brings back any wandering listener who might have tagged Skoud as just another coffee table electro-clique cliché.
From then on Koudriavtsev shows a varied hand for the remaider of the journey. The dour demeanour of ‘Maida Vaile’ has an odd enchantment that isn’t apparent until the third or fourth playback, 'System 20 live edit' will appeal to those that thought Four Tet’s latest album lacked the pastoral feel of Rounds, and the sub-bass swirls of ‘Bagtag’ quickly mutate to a lo-fi breaks feast, complete with a gorgeous filtered segue.
Such variety still doesn’t prepare you for the finale ‘Requiem for the Art College’, a straight piano piece that is criminally short at a tick under two minutes. Such simplicity is certainly not expected given the twelve tracks that proceed it, but Koudriatsev’s tender closer shows that beneath the clicks and beats, there’s a melody that sometimes breaks free from its electronic shackles, left to bask alone in the light. If ‘Systems and Drafts’ is an indication of the standard of future releases to come from both Skoud and Motivesounds, then winter in Cumbria will be a little warmer, and a lot brighter this year.
7Euan McLean's Score