Ikonika has always been a maverick talent and her music has always been fun – aside from a reputation for being one of the best DJs in the business, the prescient electronics of her 2010 debut ‘Contact, Want, Love, Have’ were something of a prequel to what people started to call post-dubstep.
Her citric synths, brash tone clashes and cluttered video game-inspired genre mangles came to her naturally, before legions of young producers got in on the act. According to Ikonika “The word ‘Aerotropolis' comes from being a DJ living in one. I'm haunted and infatuated by it. Watching ‘Gattaca’ for the first time, I found myself relating to Vincent Freeman's ambition of reaching space and travelling somewhere better, getting high. I'm constantly watching planes take off and twitching that I didn't get a booking this weekend, needing to play out.’
The ‘80s is still a big touchstone for this album, but the angle is very different, Ikonika says “This new album plays on an inspiration I wished I had focused on more growing up. I started fantasising about making freestyle house and early pop wishing I was a little older at that time so I could actually have made this music.” This time around the feeling is a confident brashness that takes on older genres, brushes them off, and gives them a colourful shakedown.
“I thought about how video games consoles were being championed at the time when a lot more music machines were being made. That connection led me to use sounds from older drum machines and synths, balancing old school and modern techniques.”
The album opens with the gentle posi-drone of ‘Mise En Place’ before breaking into Ikonika’s first track to feature vocals, ‘Beach Mode (Keep It Simple)’ featuring Jessy Lanza, whose joyous lyrics set the tone for the rest of the album. ‘Mr Cake’, up next, is a bold electro-pop track with a gentle bounce. Ikonika talks about “letting the sound take flight”, and the positively soaring melodies of ‘Eternal Mode’ attest to that, roaring out over chiming italo-disco style arpeggios.
‘Completion’ is about spacious ambience before ‘Manchego’ breaks out into playful stop-start jacking house with a fat bass line. ‘Let A Smile Be (Y)our Umbrella’ is a mix of warm tightly-balanced chords and minimal finger snaps. ‘Mega Church’s mood is reflected in its title; playing out on huge, reverbed claps and an ocean of rippling organ. ‘Cryo’ is a dark flight with ominous chords and thunderclap snares, while ‘You Won’t Find It Here’ is a combination of cold bleeps and happy synths stabs.
The album ends with ‘Zen Sizzle’, a solemn and contained track, but with a goofy melody running through. These songs positively glisten and sparkle. This is an album with a big heart and a lot of confidence, creativity and joyful direction.
1. Mise En Place
2. Beach Mode (Keep It Simple) Feat. Jessy Lanza
3. Mr. Cake
4. Practice Beats
1. Eternal Mode
2. Completion V.3
4. Let A Smile Be (Y)our Umbrella
1. Lights Are Forever
2. Mega Church
1. Backhand Winners
2. You Won't Find It Here
3. Zen Sizzle