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Cygnus 100% Dope

For CPU’s centenary label veteran Cygnus offers up an electro masterclass, with experimental beats and cascading chords that long for the future.

100% Dope

Nine years ago, I reviewed an album on a new label – CPU Records – by Cygnus. Electro had not yet had its latest rise to popularity. However, Newmark Phase demonstrated there was plenty of room for innovation in a genre perhaps undeservedly seen as a throwback at the time, something CPU clearly recognised.

There's something refreshing in Cygnus’ combination of dry synthetic beats and leads with shimmering pads – often displaying a harmonic sensibility that he’s managed to make recognisably his own. His style is emotive, suggestive of a longing for a future that has not yet and might not ever occur, which sets it apart from the more club-orientated electro that has defined the most recent wave of releases in the genre.

Nowadays electro and CPU are both at the forefront of electronic music, and 100% Dope will receive far more attention than its predecessor. Yet what I love about this release is that stylistically it hasn’t diverged much at all. Opener ‘Broken RPG Controller’ is instantly recognisable as Cygnus music – cascading, moody chord progressions swell and retreat, underpinned by jumpy experimental beat work that always remains funky.

Cygnus deftly explores electro-pop on ‘Back to the Surface’, and brings his own slant to garage on ‘England Club Deep’, which brings his sonic palette to the rhythm and bass structures of the genre effectively. Cygnus dares to do things his own way, and it seems apt that this marks the 100th release of a label which is happy to follow the same ethos uncompromisingly.

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