Published Nov 04, 2019It's clear by now that UK-based Nick Harris's eight-year-old A Sagittariun project isn't exactly about bringing innovation. Obviously, that isn't intrinsically a bad thing; regular listeners of his know that his music displays a genuine affection for his influences — house, IDM and Detroit techno from the '90s — that inspired him to become a producer about 25 years ago, and that makes his music endearing, even if it isn't forward-thinking. Although still overlooked, his more recent output has come to be a trustworthy source for great techno stompers and downtempo dreamscapes.
That's why A Fistful of Bitcoins — a five-track extension to his Return to Telepathic Heights album released earlier this year — is a head-scratcher. "The Sacred Chao" opens things up well enough, with its lush and pensive '90s electronica synths, before heading toward an electrifying ambient techno groove not unlike Luke Slater's material under his the 7th Plain alias. But the rest, which dips into midtempo lounge, never leaves much of an impression with its lack of hooks in the beats, the melodies and the sonic palette.
While his recent album had some pleasant surprises, including a new wave-inflected instrumental, the new endeavours here fall flat. This release sees Harris sample movie soundtracks probably for the first time, promisingly straying away from his usual sound, yet it doesn't yield engaging results. For example, Ennio Morricone's beautifully haunting harmonica and electric guitar used in "A Fistful of Bitcoins" can't do much with the sluggish bass line and overall lethargic feel of the track.
And that's the rub here — despite Harris's tentative broadening of his sound, it uncharacteristically ends up not having much to grab onto for the listener. This is one for the most curious of fans. (Independent)