After five years of releasing EPs and singles across a raft of labels including Argon, Ramp and his own Signal Life, Finnish producer Desto returns to Rwina to deliver his first full length album, ‘Emptier Streets’.
As with his previous releases on the Dutch label, Desto strips the music back to its bare-bone essentials, fulfilling the album’s title with a sound that’s spacious and eerie, bleak and punishing yet still offers warmth in its apparent coldness. Stylistically the album is most obviously aligned with the aesthetics of Dirty South hip hop and the dubstep diaspora, deploying booming drums, rolling hats and cold synthetic melodies and voices inside cavernous sonic landscapes.
Rather than simply rehashing styles Desto draws from his own surroundings to make Emptier Streets play out like the soundtrack to a dark city tale across its twelve tracks. A city full of tall skyscrapers surrounded by dark alleyways, night time characters shrouded in shadows, empty warehouses where the raves aren’t quite what you imagine them to be. You can feel this cinematic quality on ‘Discolated City’, where a simple interplay between pitched kick drums and modulated melodies is all it takes to create a hypnotic vibe.
The title track features a rare use of vocals, stuttered and effected into something alien, set against icy melodies on a solid bed of bass kicks and syncopated snares. ‘Glottal Stops’ plays with a slightly disturbing melody made of guttural sounds over a relentless kick assault while ‘4 A.M’. starts old school before switching into one of the album’s most anthemic productions. ‘Drainpipe’ shows off Desto’s ability to pull emotions from the listener even without any drums, winding things down before ‘Healing’ closes the album with one last energetic run through the city, coming across like the bastard child of Burial and Mala.
‘Emptier Streets’ takes the sound Desto has been building for the past few years to its logical conclusion. An intense listen that can work equally well at home as in the club, it’s an album that makes no concessions and wears its colours proudly: a spectrum of dark emblazoned on a night time jacket.
4. Emptier Streets
5. Glottal Stop
6. 4 AM
7. Ink Pit
8. Final Chamber
9. Dust Pyramids