Premiere: Bearface – Shikazu [Beartone Records]

Beartone records are back with their seventh release, showcasing the increasingly sophisticated sound of label boss Bearface and an appropriate and exciting link up with the Romanian minimal house scene in the form of a remix from the uber-respected and prolific Vlad Caia (Amphia Records, SIT). From West London to Bucharest, the love of minimal, trippy and atmospheric House crosses national boundaries and dancefloors. Here we have four solid tracks, all showcasing the lovingly crafted attention to sound design that these two exciting producers are known for.

The EP kicks off with ‘Shikazu’ (original mix), a subtle, poly-rhythmic micro-house delight. Razor sharp, trebly hi-hats and a solid kick underpin barely caught glimpses of swirling, organic sounds and faint touches of reverbed chords lingering in the background. Perfect for those late-night moments, it feels like digital birds and corrupted circuit boards singing to each other in a mystical garden of not-so-earthly delights.
Vlad Caia adds a little complexity to the remix, adding a few layers to the rhythm track but staying faithful to the atmospheric intent of the original. Touches of melody in the bassline and melancholic chords stretch and build the track into an intriguing soundscape that would work alike for both discerning dancefloors and the horizontal groover at home.
On the flip, ‘Woodsman’ continues the otherworldly theme, starting with a playful, shifting metronomic tick before layers of percussion and multiple shimmering chord washes overwhelm you. This feels like a beautiful transition between worlds, with elements drifting in and out of the mix but never becoming dominant or lingering beyond their welcome. Mesmerizing stuff.
Finally, ‘Reduts’ shifts into a slightly darker, more lo-fi approach that crosses the boundary of tech-house and starts nudging the edges of techno. A long percussion intro slowly deepens in intensity before rupturing into fractured, glitchy electronics and live sounding cymbal flicks, before suddenly subsiding into a pool of echo and reverb.

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