After poring over their third release, Liquid Skulls’ “Rituals,” consider me an acolyte! Mid-tempo cold wave vibes married to carefully sequenced synth lines make for an engrossing listen, while expert use of reverb ensures a cavernous feel to the mix. Hushed whispers and punchy basslines accompany meandering synth washes and stabs – there are Junos and Rolands and DX-series patches aplenty.
From the processed vocal samples of “Concrete Sins” to the bitcrushed bassline of “Blank Motions,” Liquid Skulls injects judicious amounts of glitch and chaos into otherwise calm, soothing tracks. “Swaying” recalls best-of-Soundcloud dreampop a la Labyrinth Ear, while the brooding character of “Swallowed” honors early Boards of Canada’s sparse melodic aesthetic. It’s this very diverse musical pedigree, spun into a unique and cohesive album, that designates “Rituals” for repeated listens – you could sneak it in as a Medical Records synthwave reissue from a unrecognized Italian synth tinkerer genius or leak it as a long-forgotten Warp Records side project. But I have no trouble believing that such comparisons will soon be superfluous as ERR-REC and Liquid Skulls continue to make a name for themselves as purveyors of carefully-crafted electronic music.
- NATE WAGNER