From humble origins witnessing their culturally phenomenal peak as a child, to getting your start debuting a project all of your own with an official remix of their track ‘No Fun’, it’s hard to imagine anything more arm-pinchingly cyclical then landing the chance to work with your idols The Presets. But such is the case for the man behind the golden mask himself, Sydney native and Golden Features visionary Tom Stell, as the two club powerhouse provocateurs serve up one of this years biggest curiosities.
The team waste no time in getting to the good stuff with titular track, the driving ‘RAKA’ setting the tone. We are immediately introduced to a familiar Golden Features bass-house staple of a low-cut, sub-laden syncopation of stabs and fades, ultimately culminating in Stell’s natural affinity for percussive groove and evoking somewhat the likes of recent debut EP ‘SECT’ heavy-hitter ‘Medicate’. Most interestingly here do we see also the incorporation of Kim Moyes’ unmistakable production chops, showcased by signature vocal sampling, glitches, and perhaps above all else the effervescent euphoria of signature sparkling arpeggiated synths used previously in anthems like ‘My People’ that have come to be inseparable from The Presets brand itself.
Debuting the project, lead single ‘Paradise’ delivers a more accessible take on the two’s particular styles, abstaining from the prior’s metaphorical gut-punches in lieu of something much more intimately accessible. Preset’s front man Julian Hamilton’s infectious shout-aloud vocals are underpinned by familiar Golden Features wooden FM-synths sounding something like a gussied up step-child of a Rüfüs Du Sol number. It’s at this point that there surfaces something of a reoccurring sound-design and structural motif.
The most unabashed innovation comes late in the EP with mid-tempo slog ‘The End’. The 104-BPM slow-burner rhythmically drudges forward with all the determination of a broken ceiling fan, and even evokes imagery not too dissimilar. It’s boisterously bold, deliberate, and all unapologetically so as it’s anthemic whispers bury into the ear before commanding something anywhere between aggressive nod and all-out head-bang. Used once to describe genre-mate and fellow dark horse Gesaffelstein and his break out album ‘Aleph’ (from which the track ‘Destinations’ is a clear inspiration here), it too is all very punk-rock in contrast to your average dance number, and it truly is a shame that the splash it makes doesn’t last any longer than it’s modest three minute and thirty four second outing.
Ultimately though, the 4 track offering largely plays it safe and refines to more of the Golden Features wheelhouse than anything in Hamilton & Moyes’ catalogue, with tracks like ‘Control’ a pastiche of elements conflated from Stell’s previous experiments. Along with a few recycled sample elements, these include borrowed harmonic ideas particularly reminiscent of previous Odesza remix ‘Falls’, as well as standout original ‘Baxter’ from 2015 EP XXIV and even debut self-titled EP fan favourite – the oft neglected ‘Maybe We Are Different’. And whilst this familiarity doesn’t stop it from being a good time, it does unfortunately stop the EP from becoming anything greater than the sum of its parts.
An unexpected surprise the likes of an EP sporting such thrilling a headline as ‘Golden Features x The Presets’ in the absence of any and all precedence is naturally as ‘golden’ an opportunity as there ever will be to get weird with it, and as much as ‘RAKA’ is a missed opportunity, it’s also an idea that’s too big too lose, one that doesn’t outstay its’ welcome, and one that we can agree cannot be revisited soon enough.