Tinlicker – ‘This Is Not Our Universe’; if there’s one thing we know about market trends it’s that they always wrap back around, and just like the world of fashion, the music industry is no exception. So it’s with no surprise when an underground artist successfully innovates on a particular style that we soon witness a more accessible, mass-market appealing iteration fast-follow that seems to shoot said genre into the stratosphere. For every Flying Lotus, a Flume, every Rustie, an RL Grime, every Green Velvet, a Fisher. But what makes this phenomenon so interesting is that when done right, the subsequent work of these emerging artists almost always goes on to be greater than the sum of their influences. So it goes without saying that it was only a matter of time before we saw something the likes of Tinlicker’s magnum opus ‘This Is Not Our Universe’.
Although brimming with purpose, across the thirteen-strong offerings do exist a few clear standouts, such as the assertive ‘The Walk’, with it’s bold arpeggiated bass-line somewhat reminiscent of fellow producer Zhu and his nocturnal vibe, even accompanied by similar warped analog leads that seemingly begin to drift away before the mind has even begun to decipher them, and motifs of which even reappear in the melancholy of the introspective ‘Fractal’ tracks later. It’s but just one example of duo Jordi van Achthoven and Micha Heyboer’s dual approach to an all too often one-note genre that really sets the motive of the record and truly demonstrates the breadth of Tinlicker’s engineering ability, from the slow-burning anthemic build of introductory track ‘Bird Feeder’, all throughout to emotional finale ‘When The Light Fades’, with it’s ability to conclude and punctuate the album narrative as a whole.
But whilst each track has the substance to stand as a story in and of it’s own, what is perhaps most impressive is that much of the album is equally permeated throughout by a signature melding of not only contemporary melodic/tech concepts, but also multiple classic progressive house staples. This lands the production wheelhouse of both Achthoven and Heyboer in neither camp particularly, but seemingly square in a niche they’ve carved out in between, with plucky arpeggios, 16th note rolling pizzicato stabs, widely panned saw-waves, and a bold abstinence of haphazardly establishing groove simply with bass-lines only, but instead also with carefully considerate implementation of rhythm and percussion sections.
This grants the duo the somewhat rarely afforded opportunity to monopolise on their refreshingly innovative re-imagining of the progressive-house genre even something of a decade post it’s initial rise to prominence. This calls to mind the work of beloved acts like Deadmau5 and Kaskade, and serves to explain Tinlicker’s signing to the former of which’s label, Mau5trap, but with all the modern trappings of emotional house contemporaries, such as the esteemed Lane 8 and Yotto.
The result is a degree of accessibility brought to an initially underground sound that not only serves to usher in a new generation of fans, but also translates to live sets the likes of which have the ability to ebb and flow in order to tell a story even in a club setting, as was the case with the Netherlandish pair’s Australian debut at Melbourne’s Xe54 this passed weekend. Ultimately, only time will tell the significance of such a risque approach to an LP, but as it stands, Tinlicker’s ‘This Is Not Our Universe’ holds up as an exciting asset to a trending movement of contagious dynamacity in club music only just recently breaching the horizon of mass-popularity, and the it seems boy’s are in on ground zero.