What have lost Samurais, early Bjork, The Streets and Lord Kitchener have in common? It sounds like the punchline to a particularly surreal riddle, but the answer is that they are the wellsprings of the musical intensity which flows through Marathon Artists’ enigmatic new signing Elliott Power. Power has been steadily gaining a foothold in the world of electronic music this past year, and now is ready to drop his deep and dramatic debut album “Once Smitten”, which brilliantly showcases his abilities as one of the best and brightest new talents on the musical landscape at present.
Working in collaboration with James Lavelle’s seminal label Mo’Wax, Power drinks deep from the well of British electronic music to create something which genuflects towards the past while also creating something defiantly, refreshingly modern. His first single “Murmur” set the tone – a swaggering track with a beautifully sensual, cinematic atmosphere about the need to break away and escape from societal norms. It is this staggering confidence which runs through “Once Smitten” – listen to the way the dark, dystopian beats of “Built on Greed” conjures up a world of slowly simmering anger and frustration, or how “Unfortunate” hits a liturgical tone, almost a hymnal yearning filling the song as a cloud of crackles and clicks rise up around it. The percussion heavy “Surveillance”, meanwhile, bristles with sexual energy as Power reflects on voyeurism in this modern age, and “Sword Souls” uses the metaphor of a samurai seeking peace by avenging his master’s death as a meditation on his own goals and unquenchable drive to succeed.
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Tracks like “Black End” and “On a Windrush” hum and throb with dancefloor beats, riding along on hyper syncopated UK garage rhythms, but texturally and emotionally these fit perfectly as part of a greater whole with the tracks that drift and bloom more gradually. “Once Smitten” is an album which could work for demanding and hedonistic dance crowds, yet this is also an album for headphone reveries.