On First Listen: Balam Acab – “Apart”

If you haven’t already heard the self-titled debut EP from New York post-dubstep (or whatever you want to call it) artist Balam Acab, aka Alec Koone, shame on you. Though it’s understandable if you haven’t. The release received shockingly little publicity for how good it was.

Koone creates dense, velvety, echo-chamber electronica, not unlike his forebearer Burial. It’s often sample-laden and has more distinct melodies and song structure than a lot of dance music. His closest contemporary (and still-working, get with making a new record, Burial) comparisons are the equally unknown Sepalcure and the early works of now-indie  media darling James Blake, albeit with less of the frantic tension.

“Apart”, the second single from Balam Acab’s upcoming debut LP is better than the ethereal first single “Oh, Why“, whose shuffling electronics, heavenly piano, and butterfly flutter hi-hats create one of the best songs of the year. “Apart” begins with a sea urchin bass line slowly swaying and contracting amid a wash of keyboard drones, while the sounds of a mid-90s line printer tear apart the structure of the song. The cavernous chipmunked vocals that spring to life a few bars later cut through the density of the backing sonics like a hot knife to butter.

Unfortunately, the vocal introduction is the most striking idea in the song. From there, Koone lets it slowly run its course. It’s not that “Apart” doesn’t go anywhere, necessarily, but it stops abruptly and without resolution, which isn’t entirely disappointing given the high you’re riding throughout the entire song, though you wish it had a few more concepts. Regardless, this is another notch on Koone’s bedpost and another reason to continue frothing at the mouth for his new record.

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