To suggest that Nathan Fake’s Drowning in a Sea of Love is no more compelling than your average comatose electronica is to ramble off the insinuations of a damned fool. The British producer computer-built a lofty fortress of textured musical shapes for his much-anticipated full-length, but the record is sharply devoid of the bubbling techno sound he has become known for. Instead of a slew of tracks mirroring the twinkling “Outhouse,” “Dinamo” or “The Sky Was Pink” singles’ remixes that preceded Drowning — all of which previously found their way into notable mixes and set lists — this rewarding LP is painted with a bleary, digital haze, like the wine-hangover blur that dampens thought and renders any attempts at conversation entirely useless.
Although Dominik Eulberg’s 2005 remix of Fake’s “Dinamo” glistened in the lineups of Rob Da Bank’s Fabric mix or the more recent Mistress Barbara’s Come With Me, among others, the lauded floor-welcoming remix of “The Sky Was Pink” was glued together by producer/deejay/Border Community label head James Holden. When Holden pushed the mild, clipping pulses beneath the most popular version of Fake’s song, he launched it into the public sphere by considerably quickening the original’s unkempt shoegazer ambience. The first run of “The Sky Was Pink” falls into the upper echelon among the eleven tracks on Drowning in a Sea of Love, and with its achingly sun-drenched loads of fuzzy synth bliss and simulated-guitar lead siren, it’s in wonderful company.
Fake’s debut LP isn’t powered by its summer favorite techno pre-album hits but is surrounded by warm, processed tides of distorted Casio chords at its most vivid peaks. When it rests, Drowning in a Sea of Love does so in vast spells of M83‘s psyche-styled beatlessness (particularly debut LP cut “Violet Tree”) or the Holden-fired fluid pitch-shifting that Fake seemingly admires. Intimate experiments such as “Charlie’s House” or “Grandfathered” succeed in vivacious fluctuating melodies tapped out over light mid-tempo beats. Then they burst, in digitally decelerated transcendence, as dewy and temporary as a humid afternoon — one of the best afternoons in a very long time.