Four new pieces of experimental electronics from Hannah Thurlow – a treat as ever. Her earlier works on River and The Line were enjoyable segments. Grip provides a four-track taster palette of much the same, more sounds and heavy static toyed with, ripped apart and pooled together. Instrumental interests which cement Thurlow as a strong name in ambient techno. Manipulating sound to mark a design, rather than a change of character and pace, is what separates Thurlow from the rest in her craft. There are strong moments throughout the plinks and blinks and Grip, which suffers occasionally and never quite maintains a presence for itself. Clicks and flickers set up an Orbital-like experience.
Mounting something more than the easy-listening adjacent experiences of Maybe is the next step. Thurlow has flown under the radar, and it would appear this release is set to do the same. Fading in and out with pauses before the same beat begins – Maybe feels like a lengthier exploration on a beat which cannot quite mount the five-minute expectation. It is an important change of pace though, one which puts opener Plate to the test. Certainly the former is more memorable than the first track of this EP, but Thurlow is still looking for some finer consistencies in her craft, as she was with The River. To her credit, the four-track experience here is just that, a piece which cannot be divided and is not set to be listened to in fragments or playlist mixtures. Thurlow has dedicated Grip to the essentials of listening to works in order of release in an era where shuffling marks an inevitable temptation.
Third track Spin Change, for those who remember Kahoot, will prove taxing. Another well-mixed bit of electronic style which does well to cement Thurlow as a promising producer – but expectations of quiz beginnings linger. Blue Cupid Records has a solid release on their hands though some questions of where next do present themselves on this record. Thurlow still boasts a solid sound and the layering process found throughout is a classic example of substance and style meeting right in the middle. A healthy pairing this is – and one which benefits EP closer Aspect. Right there – in those closing moments – is the next step for Thurlow. Its beat and rise, the vocals slowly pushing in and the beat rising, the tuning finally embraced by interjections, that is where the quality lies.
Grip has a firm one on the minds of those electronic-mad listeners. Rightly so. For all the fumbles or consistencies of the first couple of tracks – the percussion and tinny styling of Aspect is a monumental piece, an important note in the rise of Thurlow’s work. There is no doubt of her quality following The River, it is why the likes of Maybe fail to land a punch, similar blows were already felt on previous efforts. Aspect is a change of pace and turns Grip from well-maintained documentation of new work to mandatory listening for electronic lovers everywhere. It is as easy as this to turn an EP into an essential companion to your ears – and it is no real surprise Thurlow has brought her music to the next level once again.