On the one-year anniversary of Ancient Methods' Persephonic Sirens label, we are presented with a newcomer. Following two strong releases from the fledgling label, Aoud debuts a three-track EP that follows the trend of reviving classic trance sounds coupled to contemporary techno — an effective formula, notable recently with I Hate Models.
SE MKII can be as anthemic as it is timid, cavernous as it can be hollow. Three main ingredients are at play: deep, booming kick drums predestined for big rooms, pad sounds drowned in reverb, and 303-inspired bass lines.
The title track, "SE MKII", begins with a Recondite-esque chord progression, layered on a driving kick drum. Frustratingly, the arrangement follows a predictable pattern: adding and removing percussion, then introducing a countermelody and a bass line. "I (One)" leans more heavily on trance influences. Machinegun synth lines, married with copious amounts of white noise and reverb, result in a sound where everything seems to be fighting for the spotlight. Finally, "Surd" ends the EP well, with subtle percussive variation, and more compelling synth work. Certainly the most interesting track of the three.
Why SE MKII falls short of being exemplary is down to execution. The tracks play it too safe to be innovative, and the ideas presented are not fleshed out in enough detail to stand alone. Still, there are encouraging signs for Aoud's future, where the artist has a firm base from which to grow. The ingredients are present, but, at the moment, they lack flavour. (Persephonic Sirens)