Album of the week: Makam – Than Sadet

Dutch producer and DJ, Makam (Guy Blanken) has been a regular feature on the Dekmantel imprint since its inception, something that implies his tenure of the Amsterdam scene as much as it does his talent. He returns to the label with “Than Sadet”, his second album, showcasing “a new sound” for the Dutch stalwart according to the label and what’s immediately evident is that something has certainly shifted within the producer’s work. Makam’s Deep-House Techno-informed inclinations have made way for a balearic kind of sound with plucked strings hollow percussion, communicating something far more exotic than he’s ever ventured towards before these 11 tracks.

Makam transmogrifies electronic sounds into picturesque landscapes of distant scenes, converging around stark minimalist percussive sections that can go from the break-beat rhythms of the UK to the measured beats of traditional House and Techno. Makam certainly stirs the pot on “Than Sadet”, as tracks like “Buddha’s Bridge” and “Stray Dog” take vastly different cues from the DJ’s own eclectic record bag, going from dance floor tools to something more reflective. The tracks, however  different, are congruous with each other in the way their sound palettes are informed by the exploratory nature of Makam’s new approach, where samples and field recordings have a more prominent standing. There’s the Thai-theme that’s obvious in the album title and track titles too, but more than that there’s this inquisitive aspect to the entire album.

Even a track like “Resort Abandoned” which establishes itself in the acid-fuelled dimensions of House soon disappears into the murky world of field recordings and elongated pads that smooths out the energetic rhythms of the 303 and percussive section to the point where a touch of ambience can be felt. Tracks like that one and “Buddha’s Bridge” do bite on the dance floor, but the general beauty of the album lies in something of Balearic nature Makam has adopted on this release, which can be summed up by the title track. The kick that intermittently goes off-beat; the pads that seem to eternally swell around one loop; and whispers of improvised keys, all congregate under the shimmer of a repetitive loop with it’s transcendent traditional qualities.

If Lucy were to have made a House album after Self Mythology “Than Sadet” would’ve certainly been it. It has something of that exotic, field-recorded flavour, but without venturing too far into the mystic, grounding everything in the contemporary rather than going into pure library music. It’s still cut from House music’s cloth, but for those that need more than just a 4/4 beat there’s more waiting for you beyond the dance floor on this release.