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Numan – Race Against Time review

18-year old Numan Khan is the latest artist to join the electronic elite on Mike Paradinas’ Planet Mu imprint. Bringing forth an excellent four track EP that combines dubstep and grime influences, rearranging them into an altogether new and unexplored formula, the Race Against Time EP will no doubt provide another signpost on the metamorphosing post-dubstep map. With previous releases on Wicky Lindows (7th Key) and Slit Jockey (Skull Crusher) as well his first extended play (The Secrets EP) on Subdepth late last year, this is the first high profile platform the Mancunian producer has been given to really go to town with his unique and intriguing signature sound. Championed by the likes of Mary Anne Hobbs, Starkey and Oneman, he has been hailed as “one to watch” for 2010. Well, all eyes are on Numan now as he steps forth with a Race Against Time.

A cooing, bleeping alarm clock style melody measures the passing moments and marks the start of the title track with imposing resonance. A jaunty accordion brings a whimsical, Rustie-like element to proceedings before ripples of piano keys flow out with undulating aplomb. Numan uses the delicate melodies which flow in and out of the track to create a sense of exploration – something which is continued throughout the EP’s intriguing excursion into Numan’s inner sound. “Photograph”, up next, introduces a more contemplative note of transcendental blues with misty atmospheric sweeps, reflective drones and clicking shutter snapping beats paying homage to the title, much like the alarm clock in “Race Against Time”. Its delicacy swiftly becomes the source of its beauty and really marks it out as a stand out track on the EP, albeit in a different tone to the two tracks bookending it.

“Voodoo” shifts to a more tribal rhythm, with hollow, combing SFX and an upbeat, rousing high-pitched synthetic violin pushing things along in a frenzied jig. Intermittent wails add to the “voodoo” sensibility, along with a bellowing b-line which grows more and more threatening as the track progresses. Moving towards the final passages of the EP, the cryptically named “XX” is one of the cuts that will get tongues wagging as Numan brings his grime influences to the fore, with chirruping circus riffs rather reminiscent of Ikonika at times, some squelchy low end, triangle chimes and delectable appeal. A landmark EP for the young producer – expect to hear a lot more from Numan in the near future.

Belinda Rowse