From 2009’s classic ‘Aidy’s Girl is a Computer’, Darkstar have come a long way via dubstep-influenced work to News From Nowhere, a breezy and psychedelic record inspired by an extended writing period in the West Yorkshire hills close to where they hail from, released on Warp Records.
‘-‘ extends classic elements of their sound into unknown terrain, with rippling electronics and a suspended ethereal vocal sitting as much within a tradition of English prog rock as urban dance music. ‘Hold Me Down’ is similarly beguiling in its pastoral flavour, with undulating synthesisers and marimbas overlapping in powerfully irregular loops, recalling minimalist legend Terry Riley and even Genesis in its brief cameos of brass synths and wispy disembodied vocals.
There are nonetheless compelling traces of the group’s more rhythmic work in the whip-cracking ‘Armonica’, or fudgy half-step of ‘Bed Music – North View’, which are both complemented by gorgeous textural layers which make percussive elements feel a part of the wild, rather than its opposite. ‘A Day’s Pay For A Day’s Work’ is the record’s real gem, managing to accommodate Darkstar’s palette to a Beatles-esque humdrum piano ballad which gives a sense of location and tradition vital to this peculiarly and wonderfully English record.