Listening to this EP takes me back a couple years. Back to 1997 – 98 to be exact, when I was delving into what could be called, for lack of a better term, “drum and bliss.” That was the term that Darla used to describe several bands on their label that combined the chaotic, explosive rhythms of drum n’ bass and jungle with the graceful atmospherics of early ’90s shoegazer acts. Alright, so maybe not a proper genre, but a fair amount of decent CDs got released under that description, coming from artists including Technicolor, Color Filter, Sweet Trip, and Junior Varsity KM.
The Singed Wings EP certainly contains the major earmarks of drum n’ bliss. There’s the frenetic programming and breakbeats, which look to the likes of Aphex Twin and especially µ-Ziq. But at the same time, Maduro blends in some very nice textures and atmospherics, such as the flute-like tones that lighten up “Sometimes.” Sprinkled throughout the synths and beats are snippets of synthesized vocals, which add a very nice, albeit Kid A-ish touch to the CD’s opening track as they cryptically intone “The dark under could soothe singed wings.”
“Invading Space” places several layers of 808 State-ish synths on top of a minimal beat and sets them in motion. The background layers add an open, oceanic feel to the piece a la Technicolor’s “Normal Control Range.” Meanwhile, those layers closer to the front keep pushing the song forward with abrasive, scratchy undulations.
If I have one criticism to make, it’s that moments of the disc still feel like basic sketches or works in progress, with the beats and atmospheres placed side by side but never really mixing together in a satisfying manner. For example, the shifting layers of synthwork on “Plastic Fruit” sound interesting at first, but they never congeal. After about a minute or so, it’s obvious the track isn’t going to be much more than a demo of various synth textures with only the barest of rhythms to keep them moving forward.
Overall, the impression I get from Singed Wings is that there’s plenty of room for development in Maduro’s music, but that he’s also got a pretty good foundation on which to build.