Albums / EPs, Reviews

Album Review: Micr.Pluto – Half a Hole

Micr.Pluto (pronounced Micro Pluto) describes himself as an experimental electronic composer and DJ from…


Micr.Pluto (pronounced Micro Pluto) describes himself as an experimental electronic composer and DJ from Johannesburg. When producing he creates bass heavy beats with skilfully constructed percussion accompanied by laid back melodies, jazz samples and a synthesized twist. When DJing, he enjoys mixes of electronica, future funk and other forms of experimental bass music and hip hop.  He released his debut EP, Smoke Sculptures, in November 2013 and made a memorable appearance at the Christian Tiger School Chrome Tapes album launch party at The Assembly in March.

His latest offering, Half a Hole, is an 8-track collection of reworks and remixes released through Okayafrica in collaboration with PUMA SA. It is a truly unique listening experience that celebrates the many styles and skills that Micr.Pluto has at his disposal to experiment and stretch some previously released tracks to an extent not yet explored.

The first two tracks, ‘The Ringmaster’ and ‘Millipede’ both have strong looped synth leads which pound above a dense combination of harmonies, bass and percussion, providing a hypnotic quality. ‘Bass Rupture’ departs from the harsh cyclical style and provides some breathing space with light jazzy chords, a more accessible hip hop beat and lead bass guitar which he has taken the liberty of tweaking to great results. ‘Lazer Tag Vets’ ft. Vulkan Cydeburner feels like the meeting ground of the first three tracks. After an introductory verse from Vulkan Cydeburner, it flows between the hypnotic, pounding cycling of the beat, leading synth bass line and descending higher register chords into much needed sparser moments.

The second half of the EP starts with ‘Call Waiting’, which departs from the dense nature of the first half with a minimalist combination of drums, bass, synth and soulful, sultry vocals. However, the track takes a bit of a turn towards the end as it dives into some ominous percussive looping accompanied by pitched down vocals and swells of bass from deep within in the mix. It provides a haunting and well placed ‘interlude’ to the following track, ‘Toyland’, which opens with a lamenting vocal sample, but soon finds itself striding with confidence with a leading wobble-line and a return to a denser soundscape. ‘Mrabaraba One’ ft. Merigold V leads the EP from confident to melancholic with a looping beat and compressed synth combination which is simply sustained throughout the track as vocals enter and exit with some production value cuts for good measure. The first half of the closer, ‘off On’, provides consistency with characteristic beat and synth jabs but then fades into refreshing piano chords and a jazz trumpet sample. As the sample progresses into the piano solo, he fades it out into a vocal recording of a woman talking about theatre and how “irresistible performance is to the human psyche”, which ends with the line, “It’s dramatic irony at its best. It’s half a whole.” The recording provides subject matter not frequently explored by producers or DJs, as well as what feels like a sincerely profound ending to an otherwise surreal and hypnotic EP – similar to the kind of moment significant or shocking enough to wake you up from a dream.

Micr.Pluto has a firm grasp on his sound and his ability to experiment. The hypnotic quality that dominates the EP can feel monotonous at times, lending the music more of a background favouring as opposed to active listening. However, it is comforting when a producer who describes himself as experimental maturely focuses the execution of experimentation in the sounds, beats and mix of the music, rather than being experimental in a more eclectic and unfocused way. He allows for repetition that provides the listener with a chance to explore that experimentation themselves, rather than trying to fit as much into a track as possible. It’s this maturity that stands out with Micr.Pluto – the kind that signals a need to follow his progress closely.

You can listen to Half a Hole here.

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