8.5Overall Score

Melbourne continues to shine as the latest house music hotspot, thanks in no small part to the consistent brilliance of local labels Superconscious, Butter Records and Untzz (actually in Adelaide but ploughing a similar furrow). The latter has been home to every one of Sleep D’s releases, including their breakout 12” Velvet Vortex from last year, which introduced the world to Jayda G alongside a typically ace turn from DJ Fett Burger.

Sleep D’s latest is a sequel of sorts to their first record, The Jackal EP, and listening to the two in succession it’s clear how much they’ve matured. Those early tracks were raucous takes on analogue house grooves, full of energy and passion, but three years on they’re subtler, tighter producers.

All three cuts here shine with a vein of mysticism. Melody is used sparingly but effectively, while the drum patterns are taut and sophisticated. Karingal Dub is the loosest of the three, riffing off hand percussion with a tropical aquatic vibe. Its rolling rhythm is angular and dubby, subject to the swaying of a bright melody like the colourful fish of a screensaver. Third cut Jackal Pt. 2 is far darker and injected with a persistent bass pressure. It resolves as a slice of lean techno in the Dorisburg mould, all melody shorn away to the simmering of an ambient wash and insectoid chittering.

The A-side splits the difference between the two and offers the record’s purest pleasure. Its serpentine synths reference seething 90s techno and even trance, the textured rhythm taking in tight flutters of hand percussion and muffled hi hats. By the time the synthetic strings are daubed thickly onto the track’s second half it’s game over, this is Sleep D’s most impressive statement to date. And with the rate they’re improving, it looks to only get better from here.