The LA-based duo of Asma Maroof and Daniel Pineda got some of their biggest press after mixing MIA’s 2011 Vicki Leekx mixtape, but between their work on the genre-chopping mix A Perfect Lullaby and their original mixes, they’ve been deservedly taking their own step into the spotlight in recent months. While the duo’s second EP under the Nguzunguzu heading is titled Warm Pulse, it features more of their heavily textured, cool, calculated electronic wizardry.
Upon listening to this EP, it’s tempting to imagine that the band name would double as the scientific name of an eerie, glowing fungus that grows in world’s deepest caves. The opening title track drips with ominous synths, droplets of noise that plink and plop throughout the audio spectrum. While the dark intensity seethes, the polyrhythms (relying heavily on a sub-bass thump) are enough to keep things moving on the dance floor. The slippery, twisting vocal manipulations of “Delirium” continue down this warped rabbit hole, smearing haunting harmonies obscured by trilling synth percussion.
The manic, reverberated “Drop Cage” marries expected electronic music flourishes with darker worlds. The snippets of female vocals are tailor-made for the dance floor, but they’re buried in the mix, doused in reverb. The icicle synth tones recall a John Carpenter soundtrack or perhaps The X-Files theme, but they’re never quite predictable enough to be comfortable. The rapidly skipping backbeat smacks of Aphex Twin and the popping, chattering percussive electronics over the top add a layer of claustrophobia.
By the time the brief set (five tracks and 20 minutes) rolls to its conclusion, it’s “Smoke Alarm” that sticks out as the creepiest, most affecting track of the bunch. The high-end intensity and trap-boom percussion seem ready for a minimally-minded rapper to lay a few verses over, but here the bleary washes of female vocals do the heavy lifting, dizzyingly ping-ponging from ear to ear. Everything builds to a snap-along fade, the clanging synths echoing the danger signalled by the smoke alarm of the song’s title. An eerie dose of deep electronics, Warm Pulse is another step in the right direction for two producers building their own audience.
Essential Tracks: “Smoke Alarm”, “Drop Cage”