Will the real Barry Lynn please stand up? Under the moniker Boxcutter, 22 year old Lynn has already released two albums of effortlessly micro-produced, virtuosic, hyper dubstep entitled 'Oneiric' and 'Glyphic' respectively. Prior to Oneiric's release in 2005, however, he was still honing his production skills, sending hordes of demos of eclectic, frenetic experimentalism to Mike Paradinas at Planet Mu. These tracks, produced from 2002-2005, comprise 2008's retrospective 'Balancing Lakes' - and if it is significant that it is released under his real name, perhaps it is in them that we hear the real Barry Lynn.
It's a mind-blowingly accomplished affair. Mixing digitally mangled, chaotic sound design, with cuddly organic dub basslines and stuttering, glitchy, twisted, and yet somehow groove-heavy rhythm-work, much of this sounds like the output of producers twice Lynn's age. And, in this, his influences are certainly clear. Elements of Squarepusher, Aphex and Mu-Ziq pop up here and there, such as the joyous, Venus No.17-esque acid jungle of 'Loving Dub', or the lush Aphexy ambience of 'Something with M in it'. However, this is in no way an allegation of plagiarism - the reason 'Balancing Lakes' sounds akin to such heady company is simply that it treats music production in the same way as them: namely that music is what it is: pure, and should be unfettered by the constraints of genre.
Standout track 'London' is a glorious, exploding precursor to 4Bar that ebbs and flows effortlessly, letting drop after drop after drop slam out of the speaker. 'Metric Cypher' is a tour de force of live guitar and bass playing combined with extra-squelchy 303 lines and metallic, micro-edited beats, that breaks down and builds itself again from the bottom up. The bleepy, ambient and yet bassline-led 'Abort, Retry, Fail' is an underwater Autechre, without the pretentious rythmic incomprehensibility and thankfully not 9 minutes long.
Overall, the album cartwheels along, gleefully incorporating elements from drum 'n' bass, jungle, 2-step, acid, dub, jazz, funk and glitch. Despite this free-associative style, however, it coheres well as a whole, rather than just a collection of tunes. There can be a certain naivity to the arrangements in places, due to Lynn's unbelievable enthusiasm and desire to cram in as many ideas as possible - but this is totally endearing. 'Balancing Lakes' is a refreshing listen for jaded ears, tired of formulaic, predictable music afraid to break the rules of the genre it belongs to. Combining next-level production skills with a 'what rule book?' approach, Barry Lynn's work represents a significant departure from the slightly stagnating world of dubstep that his alter ego, Boxcutter, belongs to. A brilliant thing, this. Long may it continue
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