James Shinra – Darkroom

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While the dark winter season descends upon us, so does James Shinra with his gritty, haunting new EP, Darkroom, plunging us into a labyrinth of electro, sci-fi techno, acid, ambient and breakbeat, on Glasgow based Craigie Knowes. 

Having really made his mark with the euphoric Signs (Feel My Bicep), plus with releases on Analogical Force, Shinra’s expertise in synth has been widely praised. In many ways, Darkroom follows suit but with a more wintery feel.

Opening with the track “Kord”, Shinra propels us into the darkness immediately with a rapid, pulsating beat, accompanied by a punching kick drum and a smooth, echoing synth which sounds like the distant siren of a spaceship fading ominously in and out. Interwoven with a fast, synthy beat,“Kord”is an electrifying, high-octane track which is wonderfully layered throughout.

“Grygory” takes on a much grittier feel with choppy breakbeats, acid lines and alien-like dub techno chords which possess a discordant, sinister quality. With an almost overwhelming concoction of acid squelches and furious breakbeats, the track slowly fades out and then leads smoothly onto “Gritti”. While this one seems lighter at first, it quickly descends into distorted acid squelches which are skilfully complemented with deep, heavy chords. Gritty it is. 

Marking a break from the darkness, the final track “The End of Time” elapses into distant ambient synths, along with Aphex Twin-style chords and gently sinks you into a more serene soundscape. A heavy bass then thunders in, which brilliantly juxtaposes the euphoric melodies; we truly feel that we have reached the end of this exhilarating journey, or perhaps, the end of time.

Shinra expertly intertwines multiple layers and styles, and Darkroom is undoubtedly one of his darkest and greatest yet. Taking us on an ambient, yet at times bumpy journey through space and time, Darkroom evokes the feeling of spiralling down a black hole until you reach another planet entirely.