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Changes

Back in the heyday of dubstep, when everything at 140bpm had a mandatory reggae vocal sample and enough low-end wobble to rattle the fittings in your sitting room, Synkro stood out with a more melodic twist on the genre, blending rhythms with warm harmony and dense texture. This willingness to offer something different to a rapidly stagnating musical movement made certain that, while much of my former dubstep collection has been left to gather dust in the far flung corners of my music folder, Synkro - and his regular collaborator, Indigo - are still on my musical radar.

After nearly 40 releases on a variety of imprints, Apollo Recordings now bring us Synkro’s debut album, Changes. The title of the record seems to imply a turning point and a departure from previous music, but, in a stylistic sense at least, this is certainly not the case. The textures on Changes are as rich as ever and the general tone of the record will be familiar to existing fans.

There is perhaps a little less rhythmic work than I expected, but the ambient pieces, especially the haunting ‘Empty Walls’, help to create a sense of journey, elevating the album from a selection of disparate tunes to something which exceeds the sum of its parts and holds water as a prolonged listen. When the beats are around, such as on the title track, they are well poised and give the music much-needed drive.

There is often a danger that seasoned, single-releasing artists struggle to produce fully fledged albums, instead creating extended releases which lack coherence. Synkro doesn’t fall into this trap, providing variety without losing continuity. Just as my ears were tiring of vast ambience and minimal drums, out pops ‘Midnight Sun’, a classy, melodic piece with a strong lead organ line and hip hop beat. Perhaps the only thing missing from this debut record is a bit more edge at times, but Changes remains a strong release from a great producer.