A quick search of the internet reveals a scarcity of information about The Host, a new signing to label Planet Mu, unveiled by Mike Paradinas by way of a tweet on January 21. Such a lack of intelligence about the release begets a sense of mystery; it seems secretive and decidedly impenetrable. The firmest foothold in the pursuit for some context is the publication that the man behind The Host is Northern Irish Barry Lynn — better known as Boxcutter — who has already released a number of albums with Planet Mu, namely Oneiric (2006), Glyphic (2007), Arecibo Message (2009), and The Dissolve (2011).
Dubstep was already a mature subject when Boxcutter began disfigurement of it with, for example, Oneiric, at the same time as other IDM artists were contorting the fabrics of drum ‘n’ bass, jungle, and/or acid techno. In the intervening decade, dubstep has undergone considerable evolution, partially dissolving into an illusory nothing that became known as ‘post-dubstep.’ In contrast to another outgrowth characterized by a certain “macho-ism” and famously ridiculed by James Blake as resembling a “pissing competition,” post-dubstep held onto a lighter character through soulfulness, heightened sensitivity, and especially a shift toward dimensions of space.
The Host can be appreciated on a similar level, particularly in relation to Boxcutter material, which, although fashioned with definite spatial attentiveness, was considerably hard and especially muscular. While 2011’s The Dissolve represents something of a transition, The Host signifies a more complete transfer to a sonic realm that is airy, buoyant, and agreeably ethereal. From the offset, Lynn is clearly marking different territory. “Neo-Geocities” doesn’t sink in its bassy depths, but rather floats, with the percussive structure and layered texture providing audible buoyancy.
Further situating The Host independently are the consistent gestures toward psychedelia. “Hidden Ontology,” as an example, comprises arpeggiated synth lines beneath reverb-heavy guitar noodling. Despite plentiful moments of excellence — “Internet Archaeology,” “Org,” and “Second Life” — this enduring vibe does grow tiring. Much like the surrounding semblance, densely concealed behind a name with clear sci-fi connotations, the music on The Host can be difficult to really get into.