Since 2015, James Welsh's contribution to Phantasy as Kamera has delivered a series of releases shrouded in mystery, injected with the personal energy of both a hardcore and club heritage. Two EPs, 'Arc' and 'Ventoux', set a distinct tone, with the latter complimented by head-turning remixes from artists such as George Fitzgerald, Throwing Snow, Truncate and Yaleesa Hall. Now, the key Phantasy artist emerges from the shadows under his own name, in order to continue his uncompromising musical journey.
Fresh off the underground success of 'Standing/Slip', a club-ready bullet that received support from DJs such as Scuba, Adam Beyer and Leftfield, James Welsh returns to Phantasy post haste, once again blending a slab of characteristic rave euphoria with a more downtempo trip on the flip.
The release opens on 'Thread', the unmistakeable sound of Welsh pushing his studio to its unworldly limits. Initially building the tension with competing, spectral components, an ominous intro paves the way for the sudden eruption of a stomping, hi-NRG electro bassline. Pathologically chaotic until it's final moments, sudden breakdowns of white noise and ghostly commands lost deep in the mix anchor the listener in reality, enveloped in smoke and strobes, real or imagined.
On the contrary, 'North' stretches a skeletal half-step beat to support a bracing vision of maximalist melancholy. A chilly analogue hymn, awash in choral reverb, heavenly organ sounds coalesce with cathartic distortion, creating a six-minute musical landscape that is at once pleasingly epic, yet tellingly intimate in its more subtle details.
Physical and cerebral in equal measure, 'Thread / North' is a worthy contribution to Welsh's increasingly powerful back catalogue.