When I was a kid, I had a toy space shuttle with a primitive audio chip in it. If you pressed one button, it would make a simulated roaring sound; press another, and you’d trigger a burbling stream of bleeps and bloops. That sequence felt repetitive but also random; it never quite seemed to play the same way twice. I sat hunched over that thing for hours, transfixed by its digital gurgle. The UK electronic musician Iglew uses a strikingly similar sound on “Caffeine Dream,” an excerpt from his Light Armour EP, out this week on Facta and K-LONE’s Wisdom Teeth label. It takes a few listens to pinpoint it, hidden beneath pinging percussion and jagged jolts of bass, but there it is: a tumbling sequence of erratic sine tones, at once crude and futuristic.
Maybe Iglew also had space flight in mind, because “Caffeine Dream” is all about the giddy feeling of ascent. Fueled by intricately syncopated drum programming, the track seems to traverse an interminably long runway before the beat kicks in; rising Shepard tones even sound like engines powering up. There’s a moment of heart-in-mouth turbulence as plunging bass tears through the stereo field; finally, soothing jazz chords fill the frame, signaling smooth sailing at last. A club track that refuses to deliver the payoff you expect, “Caffeine Dream” amounts to an almost virtuosic display of control. Where Iglew’s previous release—2015’s Urban Myth EP, for Mr. Mitch’s Gobstopper label—teased the tension between grime and ambient, “Caffeine Dream” (like the rest of Light Armour) propels itself into a different category altogether.