Atiq & EnK :: Fear Of The Unknown (Tympanik Audio / Mindtrick)

A swirling mix of electronic, classical, trip-hop, dubstep and breakbeat influences permeate Fear of the Unknown, creating a wonderfully cerebral and intriguing experience.

atiq & enk - fear of the unknownListening to Atiq & EnK’s excellent debut album, Fear of the Unknown, it’s surprising to learn that Pim Arnoldus came from a predominantly metal music background, Guido started off in the promotion business in Rotterdam before forming his own Mindtrick Records label in 2007 and that they both began collectively developing their love of electronic music in the breakcore and jungle genres. Only the faintest traces of these origins can be found in the swirling mix of electronic, classical, trip-hop, dubstep and breakbeat influences that permeate this wonderfully cerebral and intriguing album.

Fear of the Unknown is constantly surprising as Atiq & EnK never stop throwing new elements into the mix. “Stay With The Familiar” is a lumbering juggernaut of time-stretched vocal snippets, crashing snares and buzz-saw dubstep bass stabs but sparingly adds some absolutely sublime and perfectly complementary eastern string chords that merit a repeat listen before you even think about moving on to the second track. Or there’s the dramatic, call-to-arms choral vocals and beating tribal drums that wouldn’t sound out of place accompanying a marching army in a World of Warcraft cinematic in the pounding “Like An Angel’s Feather” that ups the ante with an offbeat wood-block that kicks in for the final moments. You have to admire Atiq & EnK’s restraint here too: with not a single track exceeding the five minute mark, every second is essential and there’s simply no room for even a whisper of over-indulgence or padding.

The soft, retro-synth tones, swooshing pads, skittering hi-hats, booming sub-bass and bass-drops of “Sim One” recall a seventies vision of the future, and the opening analogue chords are interrupted by the unmistakably masterful and authoritative voice of Orson Welles as a lengthy sample taken from his Future Shock documentary plays throughout, speaking of the notions of impermanence through uncontrollably rapid technological advance – both real and predicted—particularly in the arena of artificial intelligence. Both this and the the music itself vividly evoke those fears of a dystopian future that were prevalent in the early 1970s. Simply unforgettable.

Ideas fly by like passing UFO’s, providing tantalizing glimpses that involve, intrigue and invite deeper investigation. You can hear traces of the Reapers from the Mass Effect saga and the rhythmic manipulation of found sounds in “What Was That,” squidgy, Jean Michel Jarre melodies in the taut thriller “Shards of Brilliance” and spine-crawling, childlike whispers in “My Obligation.” Voluptuous breakbeats, heavenly choral vocals, lazy hand-claps and sophisticated ambient string dropouts mingle at a “Moonlit Tea Party” with an alluring insouciance that recalls Undermathic at his most metropolitan. The overly-familiar wub-wub-wub of bro-step is used sparingly and effectively to give weight and depth to the otherwise twinkling lights of “Slow Clouds” and the music box is used to full Bjork-like solo effect in “The Glass Kingdom.”

The one thing that is simply out of place is Mike Redman’s rap on the closing track “The Moment Of Truth.” Heavy-handed and ending abruptly, this closure does a poor job of resolving the narrative of Fear of the Unknown and could have perhaps fit better in a separate collection.

Here’s hoping that Fear of the Unknown isn’t the last we hear of Atiq & EnK as not only is it an incredibly inventive debut, but also shows rare restraint and balance that leave the listener wanting more. Tympanik Audio at its absolute finest.

Fear of the Unknown is available on Tympanik Audio & Mindtrick Records.
[Tympanik Audio Release Page | Mindtrick Release Page]

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