Swooping, sub-heavy sci-fi from Riz Maslen. Leda Maar is a new moniker for the established artist who’s released a crop of downtempo and electronic music as Neotropic and Small Fish With Spine, as well as collaborated with the likes of Future Sound of London, filmmaker Andrew Kötting, and featured in PSP-era Grand Theft Auto soundtracks.
Mana’s long lasting love of Riz’s 1996 Laundrophonic EP, released under her Neotropic name, spurred this new release. That 12” was a deep and dark web of rhythm and ghostly urban found sound that one Discogs reviewer aptly named “coin-slot Dubstep”. With elements mostly sourced from tape recordings made in and of her local laundromat, it still stands out as a remarkably contemporary feeling work; more like a post-Fisher, post-hauntology observation of urban life from the last decade, taking the ambient temperature and undercurrent pressures of the 90s. Asking if she had anything in continuity with this slice of her discography, and describing our interest in her take on “space and bass”, Maslen returned to us with Stairway 13.
Heavy-lidded and ethereal in long form, Stairway 13's balance of bass weight, mechanical metre, and darkly tinted new age feels like a cinematic re-approach to some of the textures, moods, and themes of Laundrophonic. Originally composed for an installation, Stairway 13 folds in her decades’ experience in sound design and theatre, along with shards and elements abstracted from her more recent folk-like music, zoning into a deep, retreated, altogether dreamlike and expansive atmosphere. The scale and soundscape is reminiscent of Geinoh Yamashirogumi and their Ecophony album series, resonating to similar frequencies and exploring themes of chaos and rebirth in feature-length form.
Stairway 13’s four parts spread and swoop as single extended sides across this double LP. Carried by waves of sub bass and heavenly chorus, and later punctuated with autonomic clicks of machinery, whirrs, and pulses -sometimes reminiscent of FSOL’s weirder and more clipped staccato sampling in sections of their cyberpunk ISDN-the work forms a gothic, otherworldly ambience. A subtle space opera.