Review: Pressed And - Imbue Up (Crash Symbols, 2011)

This is definitely one of the most sigularly different albums I’ve come across lately. Operating on peripherals of electronic music, released on Crash Symbols, one of the freshest new cassette labels in the underground US scene (closely affiliated with Holy Page, I suppose), Imbue Up by the mysterious duo Pressed And (Andrew Hamlet & Mat Jones), breaks the borders of electronics psychedelia as most of us heads are used to (usually by the usual, worn out “new psychedelic electronic music = drone” association) by the adventurous, spacious and incredibly engaging combination of chillwave atmospheric and broken dubstep/UK garage beats - something I at this point like to call “chillstep”.

The unassuming and modest album artwork does not reflect the myriad of sounds this cassette offers. It took me a few repeated listens for this tape to click, but finally, upon some fifth or sixth listening, it clicked - and I was absolutely hooked. The opening track, “Fire Shelf”, sounds like something straight outta deep London undergound with a bit more gangsta, laid-back atmosphere added. Echoed and bouncing vocal snippets relieve the tension and the ambient interlude in the beginning sets the relaxing, yet explorative mood to the entire experience. But the high point of Imbue Up is “Etching”, a 7-minute sound journey which begins like your usual Kosmische Musik suspect finally breaking past the trappings of prog electronics and discovering many more genres, adding nearly danceable, stoned beats and beatific washes of heavenly moans into the eclectic mix. Total bliss. Other tracks on the album follow the similar, multi-layered path - bass-driven, melodic, vocal sample filled synthesized zones occupying the space between the beach and the club - sometimes more danceable, sometimes less - like the shortie, but goodie “Soul Muffin”, which just asks for a series of dancey remixes.

I have a feeling (among many others, as quoted on this album’s Bandcamp page), that this duo is destined for greatness. Imbue Up is a cassette that goes far beyond the trappings of both -step and -wave based genres, to create something richer, more spacious, infused with an undeniable ambient legacy. Watch these guys. They are bound to make quite a stir in the electronic scene.

Stream the album on Bandcamp