Switched On – BUNKR: The Initiation Well (VLSI)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

BUNKR is the operating name by which Brighton’s James Dean operates. Before we even hear his music a strong impression is created by the bold cover, which promises discovery, scope and bright light amid dark clouds, not to mention a hint of danger.

The Initiation Well, as Dean puts it, ‘provides the listener with an intrepid exploration of the BUNKR sound world. It’s melodic, pretty atmospheric and a little bit woozy’.

What’s the music like?

As BUNKR describes. Headphones are the best means of discovery here, allowing the listener to take in the widescreen sonic views BUNKR creates on substantial tracks like Docking Procedure, The Initiation Well and Rheasvilian Lakes.

East Of Eden would seem to represent the star at the centre of the album cover. Try listening as the sun comes up and you are in for a magical experience, as it also acts as an upbeat for the kick drum of Docking Procedure, where a lumbering groove and slightly cosmic treble work really well together, and the layers of different textures and loops build up beautifully.

Left For Dust picks up speed and adds a lovely fuzzy bass to go with its busy drum track, and then Rheasvilian Lakes is a lovely floaty number, stretched out as our view disappears into the distance.

Does it all work?

Yes – the tracks work individually but the album works even better as a whole. If anything James Dean’s work here could be compared to that of his label heads, Echaskech – finely crafted pictures where the imagination is left open, though his beats are a little more dub-weighted and a bit slower.

Is it recommended?

Absolutely. This is a versatile album that works on the morning commute and during work but also as a body of work to admire and – in the faster tracks – throw a shape or two. The Initiation Well is an intriguing title that draws you in – and once initiated you’ll want to be submerged again!

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