If KOAN Sound weren’t on your music radar before, they should be now. The Bristol bass music duo are known for some of the most creative drum programming and processing in the business, and their latest work is no exception. With the help of fellow Bristol producer Asa, KOAN Sound have crafted a five-track EP of orchestral midtempo and breaks.
While we’ve seen the softer side of KOAN Sound and Asa before, Sanctuary strives towards something greater. Somewhere between the organic atmospheres and beatific dream sequences rests an aura of spirituality. The combination of the pristine piano and string work, fluid drum fills, and flawless layering is nothing short of divine.
Sanctuary opens with its title track: a blissful midtempo piece that immediately sets the reverential tone for the rest of the EP. “Starlite” is next, balancing delicate and slow instrumentation over a quick drum ‘n’ bass beat. The piano bridge and drum break that follow are awe-inspiring to say the least. “This Time Around” is the most vocal-driven piece on the EP. Led by the ethereal voice of Koo, the midtempo track takes on a graceful oriental quality.
Having instigated an enchanting stupor with the first three tracks, KOAN Sound and Asa pick up the intensity for the remainder of the EP. The fourth track, “Fuego,” is highly reminiscent of KOAN Sound’s previous work on Funk Blaster and The Adventures of Mr. Fox, though more garage-oriented with the help of Asa. The fifth and final production, “Tetsuo’s Redemption,” is a thrilling breaks track: exactly what we’d expect from the dark and deviant tendencies of KOAN Sound and Asa. Murky, menacing, and otherworldly, it’s easily the heaviest work on the EP.
All in all, Sanctuary EP is a magnificent release. In a time when bass music is stigmatized for its aggressive and discordant sound design, Sanctuary EP is a breath of fresh air. It may just inspire a new wave of intrigue into the captivating world of broken beat music, and for that, you have three humble producers from Bristol to thank.