Versa | Sunrise in Una [Cut Records]
Music’s love of places — locales — as both catalyst and backdrop, is well documented. The list is long and exhaustive, especially in the realm of (the more lyrically expressive) pop/rock music. In beat-driven music? “Overcome (NYC Sunrise)”, “Naeba Variant”, “Night in Melbourne”, “Berlin/Tel Aviv”, “Baltimore”, “Tokyo Story”, “Warsaw”, “Heidelberg Girls”, BQE, again, the list goes on… and has a gleaming new entrant to it.
Short for Unawatuna, ‘Una’ is a haven for ravishing creatures and mellifluous waves. Nestled near Galle in the southern coastal belt of Sri Lanka, it’s where the Manchester-based producer had stayed and performed during the dawn of the New Year. From what we saw of him there, Versa seemed somewhat of a Sven-Weisemann type: a sculptor of sounds, with that unhurried touch. As a DJ, his selection was effortlessly locked in deep groove. Roots n dub seemed to run in his veins.
The EP is simply (but deftly) named: You have the ocean blues (the backdrop), and of course, the blues. The music is pristinely produced, to the point of carrying an overt weight/lustre. The dust is carefully calibrated, almost sandpapered to achieve that earthly sheen; the chords upfront and pronounced. He works within (the confines of) an already well-established blueprint. But in the evolution of this music, from Chain Reaction to Traumprinz, innovation was never necessarily the biggest qualifier: the design and songwriting here is strong.
Evidence? “System Blues” starts off with whirls of echo and reverb, partially submerged, yet razorsharp . Like the best dub explorations, the track possesses perfect sense (and command) of its space, or that spacial weight in between its revolving elements. “Sunrise in Una” carries a tad more groove, slowly creeping up with a steady pulse of hats in the backdrop, whilst the sound of the waves, both oceanic and celestial, blending into one. The vocal that carries it home appears somewhat unexpected, but is welcome like a cool breeze. “Atlantic Blues” further expands that blueprint into stop-stutter splendour, stretched out across eons of time. It feels like we’ve been here before: But 21 years later, good dub techno, it’s still on that magnificent, everlasting swirl.