The debut year of the producer known as Powder was about as fine a beginning as you could hope for. A pair of records on ESP Institute and Born Free marked a talent aware of electronic trends but not a slave to them, each track beautifully produced and deliciously leftfield. Not much is known about the person behind the music, but judging by their first release of 2016, the Afrorgan EP back on Born Free, their star will only continue to rise.
This is effortlessly evocative music, each of the record’s three tracks offering a strikingly different sound. Afrorgan leads the charge for the dancefloor, an immaculate concoction that rests on a busy field of sprightly drumwork. The drums have a vaguely African twist to them, as the organ keys recall Chicago house, but Powder bends each of these references into a seductive new form. The fluttering of a tender high-end melody and dub effects add to the warmth of the arrangement – gentle, but not to messed with.
The record’s B-side tells a very different story. Closer Fridhemsplan is a taut exercise in pre-dawn techno, stark and moody. The structure hints at minimal, all morse bleeps and subtle percussive tweaks, but the live-feel drums and menacing bassline gesture towards something punkier. It’s a tense affair that draws no easy comparisons – a high compliment in itself. Random Ladder With 40 is even more unexpected, something like an indie track smeared into a nostalgic blur, vocals and bittersweet melodies swaying under a fleet-footed bongo rhythm. Each track here is equally distinctive, equally accomplished. Whoever Powder is, they’re setting the bar very high indeed.