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Luke Abbott Wysing Forest Border Community

We really wanted to like this album. Luke Abbott’s debut – the warm and sparkling Holkham Drones – rightfully received fawning acclaim. When he followed it up with the streamlined neo-trance stylings of Modern Driveway, it looked very much as if James Holden’s Border Community had a shining new star.

But Wysing Forest is a nebulous and incoherent second album, containing none of the tactile aesthetics of his debut or the icy composure of Modern Driveway. There’s an indefinable knack to avant-garde music (or art of any kind): in the absence of a more convoluted analysis, you know the good shit when you hear it, but the bad stuff is really bad. Sadly, this is not the good shit. The album fidgets into life with the ambient strains of Two Degrees and Amphis. The latter is 12 minutes long, sounds a little bit like a guided tour around a zoo inhabited by robotic reptiles, and is unreasonably reprised for another six minutes at the end of the album. On Free Migration the groove arrives, and not a minute too soon. As the blurry synths melt into the floor and the high-hats crumble into dust, the album sounds like it’s going to finally take off – but it doesn’t. The Balance of Power has a fuzzy appeal, with a soft-focus drum track and shimmery melodic blanket. But tellingly, the album’s best moments come when the material is reminiscent of Abbot’s previous work. Mostly though, it’s sub-standard and self-indulgent, a major blip in an otherwise unblemished upwards trajectory.