Since its inception in 2017, Oslated has come a long way, releasing five albums, three compilations, and numerous EPs in just over two years. Now, label owner Oslon seeks to expand the label’s reach by starting up a sub-label, Huinali (희나리). The aim of Huinali (which means “wet firewood” in Korean) is to release dub techno and ambient music, styles which have obviously influenced several other Oslated releases. The fledgling label’s first release comes courtesy of Brazilian producer Racco, who is based in Sao Paulo. The name of the EP, Bada, means “sea” in Korean, and judging by the track titles it is clear that the ocean has served as a source of inspiration for the music presented here.
The EP, it must be said, doesn’t start off particularly strong. Opening track “B1rds” is a well-produced but rather lifeless slice of by-the-numbers dub techno: echoing minor chords, a low, thumping kick, wet, organic sound effects in the background. There’s nothing especially wrong with it, but nothing especially right with it either: it’s simply another iteration of the formula we’ve all heard a million times before, ever since those first game-changing Basic Channel records came out in the early ‘90s.
Fortunately, the remaining three tracks are far more interesting. Track 2, “Seaside”, is a warm, dreamy number that starts out as blissful ambient and then gradually gains more energy and urgency with the addition of a rolling sinewave bassline and crisp hi-hats. The gentle pads in the background evoke the sound of softly falling rain more than they do waves or the sea, and the percussive fills and details sound like they could be played by an orchestra of insects. The third track, “Seashore”, is one of the EP’s highlights. It’s a far brighter tune, pairing metallic, resonant arpeggios with fuzzed-out hollow pads over a steady 4/4 beat; the “seashore” being evoked here is that of a futuristic beach resort, white sand drenched in pink and blue neon. The EP closes with “0b”, a piece of cosmic-sounding ambient that feels perfectly suited to watching the sun rise over the sea. Rising and falling synth tones are framed by microscopic percussive sounds that sound as if they come from, or are at least inspired by, the legendary Buchla Music Easel. It’s a deeply layered and richly complex tune, one which rewards several close listens.
Overall, Racco’s Bada EP is a solid listen; Racco clearly has a strong grasp of the intricacies of music production and an ear for sound. It remains to be seen, however, if Huinali will be able to stand out in the over-saturated world of dub techno. If the label’s producers can push the envelope a little, though, and resist the temptation to fall back on tired and overdone dub tropes, Huinali will surely grow from strength to strength.
Bada is available for purchase over at the Huinali Bandcamp page.