For their final release of 2013, Diskotopia is proud to present Nitriding Portrait, the debut solo album from label co-founder Matt Lyne, aka A Taut Line. As one half of the internationally acclaimed Greeen Linez project (with Chris Greenberg from the band Hong Kong In the 60s), Matt has contributed heavily to the global City Pop and MIDI-Funk resurgence of the past few years. However, the material on this A Taut Line full-length is far removed from the muzak-inspired channeling of ‘90s dance and R&B that made up Greeen Linez's 2012 album Things That Fade.
Nitriding Portrait sees A Taut Line take the lush yet lo-fi house sounds of his previous Diskotopia EPs and filter them through a hallucinatory production palette to create a kind of sultry late-night Fourth World Exotica, inspired by the humid sub-tropical summers of his adopted homeland Japan. African and Brazilian-indebted deep polyrhythmic percussion melds with Liberty Records-esque strings and esoteric melodic textures, taking the listener on a unique journey that embodies the progressive idealism of Diskotopia’s sound.
Mauna Loa opens the album with a breathy, disorienting New Age fantasy soundtrack, its sloping groove guiding the listener into the chopped, static-inflected swing and white noise stabs of Peripheral. Bewildered Pleasure is a brooding stormer that could be aptly dropped at a warehouse rave in the Himalayas; As You Need, whilst flaunting a Gothic-Handbag House vibe, boasts deft drum-break hacking that slices through the synthesized melancholia. Tusk Noir takes us knee-deep on safari with ominous brass and an undeniably driving pace that propels you into the brewing, scalding melange of No Prior Depth, a track infused with the percussion and organs of 1970s Afro-funk via early ‘90s British electronica.
The introspective Chicago-meets-Tokyo dreamscape Chimera leads off the second half of the album, changing the pace briefly with its Bubble-era DX7s shimmering above faxed jazz drumming, before Northentic steers us straight to the dancefloor with an evocative bassline, collapsing percussion and erotically charged heavy breathing. Passed With drifts on stranger tides, offering an emotive synth/choral ambience tempered with cinematic marimba - only to have these belligerently ripped asunder by militant weather-beaten snares - whilst the midtempo rest stop of Gunkan Island is a testament to A Taut Line’s masterful sense of groove and atmospheric texture. Returnee provides the only real ray of light on the album, but even this track’s warm-fuzzy sensitivity, invoking the likes of Mr. Fingers, has an unnerving sense of hidden dread lurking beneath it. Valentyne brings the voyage to a close with a club-friendly exotic anthem that pairs jubilant orchestral motifs with unsettling, off kilter percussion-jolts and vicious acid lines - leaving a sense of apprehension about whether this final destination is one we are really all that comfortable to be reaching.