The productions out of the Various camp have been erratic for some time now. They force you to think more than needed and it doesn’t quite become clear which direction Adam Phillips and Ian Carter are trying for. Not enough clear objectives? I wouldn’t go that far. At the end of the day, Various have always been unpredictable. It was easier to label them in the early days, when dubstep was a monolithic genre and they were the outsiders who diversified towards folk and urban blues with tons of spectral machineries, like Portishead with a putrified soul. What can be heard on “Runaway” is the essence of Various: a layer of post-dub, of textures as opaque as they are crystalline, and a voice ( Asher Dust) that adds some humanity, like Horace Andy used to do on the rootsier Massive Attack tracks –although here the result sounds more like the urban iciness of King Midas Sound. It is, therefore, classic Various: between abstraction and impure soul, a song for wet and lonely streets on a winter night.
Asher Dust had only appeared so far on tracks by Mr. Lager, a producer who only had a 12” out on Sub Freq Recordings and who is here revealing a sound reminiscent of Raime’s gothic and post-industrial dubstep, what with the alternation of contaminated ambient passages and dark breaks with shady intentions, as if they had amputated his heart. Mr. Lager is, therefore, a name to keep one eye open for.