Two years after debuting on Central Processing Unit with the acclaimed Aftrmth EP, Nullptr returns to the Sheffield label for the release of new full-length album Future World. Nullptr has created a set of perpetual-motion marvels here, wind-'em-up-and-watch-'em-go electro tunes in which synth lines and 808s weave dexterously in and out of one another to form these lovely interlocking patterns.
Many of the tracks on Future World are anchored by needlegun grooves in the Drexciyan mode. The album's opening number 'Arrowhead', an eerie dystopian-electro take, sets the scene in this regard, and cuts like 'Cytron' and 'Phantom Cell' also have a rugged bump to their low-end - particularly the latter, which features a deliciously nasty bassline drop about halfway in.
While busybody drum programming persists throughout the album, Nullptr's fondness for washed-out pads means that Future World also provides the listener with space for contemplation. Third track 'Sweet Luna' may be robust enough to do damage on the dancefloor, but its deep chords and relatively muted bassline also push it in the direction of 90s electronica and IDM-techno. 'Sweet Luna' opens the door for many of the subsequent numbers to balance driving beats with wistful textures, and while electro remains Future World's core style the harsh sound of machine-funk is softened throughout by these warm synth tones.
Rather than playing it safe within the genre's familiar confines, Nullptr instead uses electro as a base from which to incorporate other sounds throughout Future World. 'Wave Cannon's bleep-bloop modulars and twittering hi-hats are pure robo-funk, but the track's jumpy bassline shows off a sense of adventure derived from braindance. There is also the ghost of a breakbeat in Nullptr's snare programming here, something which lurks in the back of 'Arvanche' later in the tracklisting. Meanwhile the uptempo 'Bit Device' pushes through to the ruminative techno of Virginia's early Ostgut Ton releases.
Nullptr throws us another curveball in Future World's home straight. The album's title-track closes the record out, and it's a cut which takes us deeper than anything that's come previously. Here Nullptr both lowers the tempo and also does away with drums, leaving the listener with little more than some hanging-garden synth pads and pregnant bassline. It proves to be a hugely atmospheric coda for this delightful album.
RIYL: Jensen Interceptor, Assembler Code, The Exaltics, Drexciya