London EC1 Fabric

What makes [B]Slater[/B]'s music so remarkable is the bareness of his canvas, and the depths of atmosphere and drama he can conjure...

Things have changed since Luke Slater dropped the universally acclaimed, techno-lux of 'Freek Funk' back in '97. The mood swing, to last year's altogether more claustrophobic, paranoiac beatscape of Wireless, is reflected even tonight, a Friday-evening session that'll underline the subtlety and surprising danceability of Slater's bleak visions.

What makes Slater's music so remarkable is the bareness of his canvas, and the depths of atmosphere and drama he can conjure. Employing just breakbeats and a menacing curl of fuzzed electricity, he deftly suggests a constricting urban psychosis that less inspired cod-trip-hoppers lunge after with clumsy haemorrhages of film-score samples and rusted, blunted beats. This shaven-headed genius weaves imaginary narratives out of phased snare-cracks, hi-hat sibilance and microphone bleed, ducking behind his banks of equipment to wrongfoot the audience again with one of his Hitchcockian twists of beat.

Bear in mind, Slater isn't playing to a small room's worth of similarly twisted boffin-phunk auteurs: this is the Friday night crowd in one of London's superclubs. And yet, his muscular, playful dark alleyways of dub prove perfect dance fodder, a growing tribe amassing to chase every tumbling break. Bucking the trend for cheerfully underestimating the public's intelligence, Luke Slater seems to have scored himself another winner.

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