Album of the Day: VVV, “Why El Paso Sky”

Austin-based Iranian-American Shawhin Izaddoost established his VVV project with a handful of singles in 2010, followed by the hyperactive, dubstep-leaning LP, Across the Sea in 2011. His latest, Why El Paso Sky, he’s calling a mixtape; the 16-piece collection is officially comprised of “B-sides and rarities” of the ambient techno ilk. These supposed loose ends shape up, though, boasting the tonal cohesion of something more centered and singular—you might almost call it an album.

Izaddoost’s flair for rhythmic experimentation via sub-bass frequencies and fractious time signatures remains intact on Why El Paso Sky, though he’s moved even further stylistically from the glossy digital euphoria of mainstream EDM. There’s enough low-end ammunition on tracks like “Gauss Patterns” and “Lens & Filter Repair Station” to cross over as club cuts, but there’s also a brittle, industrial corrosiveness that gives off a certain air of exhaustion, as if the factory workers are taking a creaking assembly conveyor to counseling. The oscillating machine sounds are channeled through a warm, static buffer that give them a humane, empathetic overtone. The shrieking gears on “Near War Path” bear a trace of Hieroglyphic Being’s shrill mechanics, while the arcing, minor key “Limestone” suggests Demdike Stare horrors, or Pye Corner Audio dramas.

With “follow up releases” being planned for arrival later in 2017, this collection appears to be the quieter and more modest of the offerings. At least that’s what the cassette-only format and press release might lead one to believe. Nevertheless, Why El Paso Sky is a rarity—seeming cast-offs bundled into a complete, lucid statement.

—Joseph Darling

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