Planet Mu would seem to be the natural home for Ital Tek's second album, Midnight Colour, given that the label recently issued Starkey's Ear Drums And Black Holes (and two years ago issued Ital Tek's debut album, Cyclical, too). Judging by the contents on their respective collections, Starkey and Brighton-based producer Alan Myson (aka Ital Tek) are kindred spirits, with both sponges of sorts, eager to absorb all manner of styles (dubstep, garage, funk, and electronica among the most prominent) and then spit them out again in the form of genre-transcending tracks; dubstep may come closest to categorizing their styles but their moody tracks resist being pinned down so one-dimensionally.
Opening cuts “Neon Arc” and “Talis” establish the Ital Tek sound with sputtering synth wobble, sparkling IDM melodies, and downtempo head-nod. What follows includes nocturnal reveries featuring chest-thumping sub-bass and languorous beatsmithing (“Moon Bow,” “Midnight Colour”), and tracks that occasionally bring forth a tougher side, with the gyroscopic pump of the stepper “Moment in Blue” and the synth blips and bass rumble of “Strangelove V.I.P.” cases in point. The silken breath of wordless vocalizing lends “Black and White” a sensuousness not often found in harder-edged dubstep productions, and the connection between Starkey and Ital Tek deepens when Anneka (who appears on Ear Drums And Black Holes) adds her sultry voice to the album's closing track,“Restless Tundra.”
One wouldn't expect dubstep and IDM to blend so satisfyingly but on this album at least they do. With its chiming synth flares and snappy beat flow, “Heliopause” doesn't sound light years removed from what Autechre might sound like had the group taken a slightly less experimental route. And even when an Ital Tek track seems to at first snugly conform to the dubstep template (“Subgiant,” for example, which cuts deep with a razor-sharp beat crunch), it steps away from standard dance floor moves to stray into experimental or atmospheric territory. In short, Myson's approach, to its credit, is one that doesn't regard melody and lush textures as anathema.