Their name may suggest they’re the latest act to jump on the early 90s house bandwagon, but transatlantic supergroup The Acid – aka Aussie singer-songwriter RY X, Grammy nominated British producer Adam Freeland and Los Angeles Drake collaborator Steve Nalepa – in fact deal in the kind of fragmented post-dubstep more likely to soundtrack the early morning after than the heavy night before.
Comparisons with the likes of Burial will inevitably be made, but the vast shape-shifting soundscapes and reliance on field recordings ranging from a whisked egg, to a jangly bracelet, to the creaking of a leather jacket, all ensure that the trio’s debut album, Liminal, carves out a unique unsettling identity all of its own.
The opening third of the record is nothing short of majestic. Adhering to the less-is-more approach, opener “Animal” sets the intense tone ahead perfectly as RY X’s ghostly melodies glide over a sparse drum snare and a jolt out of the blue juddering bass wobble. “Veda” segues effortlessly from a Bon Iver-esque torch song to a twinkling slice of muted house, while the utterly sinister “Creeper” lives up to its name with a barrage of machine-gun synths and rippling percussion which becomes increasingly louder as its nightmarish tale unravels.
Liminal doesn’t quite hit the same heights again, but continues to intrigue throughout, whether it’s the industrial wall of sound crescendo which makes the witchy house of “Ghost” sound like it was recorded during a particularly noisy woodshop class, or the burst of static fuzz which suddenly propels the slow-motion cosmic electronica of “Basic Instinct” into life.
Those recently charmed by RY X’s introspective troubadour fare shouldn’t feel entirely alienated either, with the hushed wintry folk of “Ra,” and “Fame,” a quivering-voiced chillwave number recalling Antony Hegarty’s collaborations with Hercules & Love Affair, and proving that The Acid aren’t entirely averse to the more conventional song structure.
Given The Acid’s members’ previous pedigree, Liminal is undoubtedly a curveball, but it’s an impressively imaginative and beautifully-composed one whose slow-burning charms unfold with each listen.