Pearson Sound (a.k.a David Kennedy) has never been shy about putting rhythm ahead of melody. His previous releases are a testament to this drum-centric approach, as he’s made careful, nuanced maneuvers while figuring out how to strip back any unnecessary elements so that only a bare backbone is left behind. His most recent offering for Hessle Audio, the label he co-runs with Ben UFO and Pangaea, is the three-track HES026, a short but substantial EP that finds Pearson Sound experimenting with the density of his tracks.

The EP kicks off with “Lola,” which finds Kennedy slowing his militaristic rhythms down below 120 bpm. Despite the slower tempo, they’re still slotted into a tightly syncopated web of flanged movement, while a moody, UK funky-esque melody loops overhead. “Lola” creates distinct spaces for each of its elements, yet it ultimately feels more like a club tool than a fully realized track. (Perhaps that’s the point.) The same could be said for “Power Drumsss,” which clearly has some sub-worthy sonics, but lacks any sort of convincing arc and instead comes across as an intriguing exercise in drum programming. “Starburst,” the EP’s final song, breaks from this tendency, combining harsh, metallic drums with emerging synth chords and discordant percussion punctuations to great effect. This variance in texture is further complemented by a more dynamic structure, and it’s encouraging to know that Kennedy can create such an engaging track when he wants to reach beyond his drum machine.