REVIEW The Burrell Connection ‘The Breaks That Strung The Camel Back EP’ [Optimo Music]

Hailing from Glasgow’s South Side, The Burrell Connection has become synonymous with dark, sophisticated cuts of electro and breaks: as a rising figure in Scotland’s underground dance scene, Alexander Hay boasts a catalogue of releases on labels including Outer Zone and Craigie Knowes, as well as a residency at Glagsow’s La Cheetah Club. Released on local Glaswegian based label Optimo Music, The Breaks That Strung The Camel Back is a collection of tracks extracted from the vaults: resembling a fulfilling collection of ultramodern breakbeat techno.

The first track, Brings It Home, is fuelled by swift percussion and breaks. Wrapped in licks of dub warbles and pulses of bass, it gives way to obscurity: subtle layers of echoed vocals and blurred melodies merge into one another, dipping in and out so that they often become indistinguishable.

Following this is Møllergata Dojo, a blur of acidic melodies and beats which wrap the listener in a web. The beats become steadily more rounded before disintegrating into an eerie blur of gongs and synths, easing the track out gently.

On the flip side, Hertabrücke Sunset takes the lead with elusive percussion and chimes. It rises and falls with moans of melancholic snake charmer-esque melodies, engineered as cleverly futuristic in its resonant layering of digital textures.

The final track, Neuromancer, begins with balmier percussion and warm, lo-fi breaks which take the central stage. Ghostly synths sift in and out, fuelling a uniform rising of sound which never quite climaxes, yet becomes ever more interesting on closer inspection. Watery recordings overlay the ending to add another layer of textural interest, merging the darker sounds with nods to another of Hay’s monikers, the IDM driven ‘Dream_E’.

The Breaks That Strung The Camel Back is a chilling dancefloor EP with a uniqueness of texture – resembling the likes of the ever-interesting Djrum or Skee Mask – paired with a stylish layering of sound which subtly nods to labels like Ilian Tape and Livity Sound. The Burrell Connection takes heavy hitting break-driven techno and makes it deviously multifaceted: exploiting the powers of dub delays, samplers and synthesisers to their full potential. In doing so, Hay carefully carves his way into a distinctive class of intellectually informed UK producers, a class which are making space for interesting listening in a suffocating abyss of often tedious contemporary underground releases.

The Burrell Connection The Breaks That Strung The Camel Back was released on Optimo Music on July 17th, 2020.

Review by Chiara Wilkinson