Drenched in reverb and hissing in on waves of shimmering, steam-like vapour trails, Desire uncurls itself in sinuous ripples and grain-shifting rhythms. While the music fits generally into the shapes and forms of ambient(ish) electronica, Derrick Stembridge‘s supple approach is at once of its kind and thoroughly modern in its detail. The little flurries of effects which modulate and mould every sound are controlled with a precision which manages to retain a human-friendly warmth among the machines in motion.What words there are stutter and flicker in abstraction, reminders that there is life outside the self-sustaining rhythms, floating melodies, swept-back interludes and some occasionally downright funky electronic basslines and crunchy beats which can easily provoke moments of attention-pulling appreciation. If comparisons need to be made, then there’s some head-nodding similarity to, say, Download‘s melange of dub-referencing techno tropes and psychoactive electronic sensibilities here, though with the industrial edges smoothed off in favour of a more ecstatic temperament.
Some Ashra-style guitar work on the title track helps make matters soar into the stratosphere too, with squitters and pulses coming thick and fast across the stereo spectrum, and it’s almost impossible not to visualise this track accompanied by lasers, smoke and the occasional waved lighter from the crowd. There’s enough variety on Desire to ensure that the album flows as a complete unit, and while each track shifts the mood from the energetic motion of beat-led grooves to some passages of almost pure atmosphere, by the piano-twinkling fade it’s easy to feel that the journey has cycled through to a satisfyingly rounded conclusion.