Familiar Exploration, the last release from one-man downtempo machine Sirins, was a fairly mellow affair, marrying pealing bass tones with skittering percussion and a strong melodic sense over the course of four intertwined and connecting tracks. His latest release, Nimbus, is almost the diametric opposite, focusing more on structure and form. At a compact three tracks, each featuring a different guest vocalist, this EP has a sense of exploration and experimentation about it.
Opener ‘Slow Down’ introduces Sirins’ preoccupation with percussion perfectly, as a chopped up, slightly incomplete sample of what sounds like a thumb piano creates a circling, symmetrical bed for his off-kilter kicks and high, clattering percussive noises. Combined with a very sweet, clear vocal from Bianca Carbone which is often folded back upon itself, delayed and variously pitched, the resultant track is an intoxicating, dark yet calming melange.
‘Sometimes I Dream’ takes a very different tactic, building a driving, somewhat tropical atmosphere from forceful distorted bass and a stop/start mechanic. Everything is pared back halfway through and the vocal from Stephen Johnson (of local blues rockers St. Morris Sinners) goes from rootsy proclamation to striking, poetic spoken word before returning to the more familiar head section. It’s easily the most accessible tune here whilst still retaining the signature Sirins tone.
Closing track ‘Vertically’ is an interesting choice, being a remix of a tune by Lizzie Bradley (who fronts local trip hop heroes Zeequil), but Bradley’s unique, jazz-inflected voice (perhaps most reminiscent of a clearer Billie Holiday) proves a perfect foil for Sirins’ production skills. He pits harsh, heavy synths against speaker-kicking sidechained kicks and woozy, eerie pad sounds that metamorphose the bouncy dance synths of the original into something far more eldritch and uncanny.
Nimbus highlights three very different approaches to the Sirins sound, yet it’s held together with a consistency of production quality, recurring percussive tropes and a selection of wonderful guest vocalists. It’s eerie, unusual and highly unique. This is the sound of an artist prepared to continually reinvent themselves.