Available on: Hyperdub LP
As recent Hyperdub signing Jessy Lanza opens ‘Beach Mode (Keep It Simple)’ with her wistful delivery of “If you really want it, don’t make it emotional / If you really want it, baby keep it simple”, it feels as if Ikonika is laying out the blueprint for her second LP with now characteristic directness and sincerity. Polished without being too clean, understated without being too polite, Aerotropolis follows on from 2010’s Contact, Love, Want, Have with a confident forward march, and reinforces a growing belief within the UK underground that Ikonika is one of its most assured and consistent talents.
Aerotropolis refers to a city built around an airport, and the album’s overall tone conveys the concept’s sense of the vastness of space and surface well. If a sense of pace can be attached to it, it’s of gliding through the levels of the grid in an air-locked vessel and surveying the monumental grandeur all around in muted awe. That this experience remains as tactile as it does across the full album is a testament to Ikonika’s developing sound. Through the aerotropolis analogy, she’s perhaps making a point about her ability to navigate various generic monoliths with a steadier pace and more readily identifiable presence than ever before, and her confidence in doing so shines through.
Spirited synth-led tracks like ‘Eternal Mode’ and ‘Lights Are Forever’ are particular highlights in terms of conveying Ikonika’s technical progression. Whilst Contact, Love, Want, Have at times saw synth lines bleed together, hanging in the ether between dubstep’s bass-weight and and the chip tune that Ikonika mined for melodic signatures, ‘Eternal Mode’ and ‘Lights Are Forever”s subtle electro-pop is stripped of any tendency towards nostalgia and speaks in a fresher, less cluttered tone.
Her spontaneous command of synth-led melody has become more direct, more robust, and perhaps more varied and memorable too. Whilst the ominous rolling click-tracks of ‘Completion V.3’ and ‘Mega Church’ hint at a foreboding dystopia, not unlike Kuedo’s ‘Work Live and Sleep In Collapsing Space’, and the twinkling sprays of ‘Mr Cake’ and ‘Cryo’ see laser beams of light punctuate this vast airless zone, ‘Zen Sizzle’, ‘Backhand Winners’ and ‘Manchego’ lurk somewhere between classic electro and grime in their cruel, staggered momentum. Aerotropolis manages to navigate its concept without being crushed by the weight of it, and is a thoroughly enjoyable LP that – perhaps like Ikonika herself – will only mature with time.