Single review – Shrinkwrap: Beautiful Thing/Hot Dub
This review originally appeared in LeftLion magazine.
Beautiful Thing/Hot Dub
12″ (Perfect 10 Records)
Ten years is a heck of a long time to be “on hiatus”, but unless Shrinkwrap have been hiding their lights under a particularly hefty bushel, it would appear that this debut 12-inch release on their Perfect 10 label marks the duo’s first recorded output since 2001. (Standard dance reviewer’s caveat: if it ain’t on Discogs, it doesn’t exist.) But it’s not that Mark Rayner and Matt Horobin have exactly been idle over the past decade; far from it, indeed. Rayner has worked with Idjut Boys, Kelvin Andrews and Digs & Woosh amongst many others, and his work on Smith & Mudd’s neglected 2009 gem Le Suivant deserves special mention. Meanwhile, Horobin’s various genre-hoppings have led him on a journey through alternative rock, downtempo, dub and drum & bass.
Reunited at last, Mark and Matt have opted to showcase two complementary styles on their comeback single. “Beautiful Thing” is the more conventionally song-structured: a gently sung meditation on the healing power of a new love, it sits within the lineage of Zero 7/Groove Armada chillout, but its deftly judged sense of restraint and space – like much of James Blake’s recent work, the track sometimes ebbs away into almost complete silence – keeps the dangers of cloying blandness at bay. “Hot Dub” is the longer, more abstract piece, which takes its time to build from skeletal near-nothingness into an eerie, almost mournful soft skank, led by deep, sliding trombone, while electronic chirrups and whispered vocal fragments dip in and out of the mix.