San Francisco’s Ghosts on Tape (a.k.a. Ryan Merry) is as good an example as any of the UK bass-gone-house trend. Although he is an American, his 2009 debut Predator Mode did coiled funky-not-funky so well that it earned a remix from Roska and praise from Mary Anne Hobbs, both of who were then in their primes. After three years of relative hiatus, his reemergence on his own Icee Hot label (full disclosure: Icee Hot is independently run in part by XLR8R editor Shawn Reynaldo) has found him paring down the kinetic syncopation into something more linear. “No Guestlist” b/w “Still Got The Feeling” is the second offering since his return, and offers a compromise between these approaches.

If “No Guestlist,” which appears in three versions here, has a defining feature, it is the repeating exclamation that “there is no guestlist tonight!” The original is tough and antsy the whole way through, but its sporadic clave-and-snare polyrhythm and the vocal’s comic touch lend it some light. The track’s “Underground Mix” retains the original’s bouncy energy, but somehow ratchets up the drama, giving frantic chord patterns a more prominent position. Arttu‘s rework, meanwhile, feels derived from old-school house; its rhythm is sparse compared to its predecessors, but there is still a sense of restlessness, as wild FX and booming lows, along with the vocal, are interwoven throughout. Merry’s closer “Still Got the Feeling” falls in line with his recent moves toward linearity. There is a little of Berlin techno in its woody swing, but the way it accumulates percussion puts it closer to the producer’s oeuvre than any kind of Ostgut Ton knockoff. Merry is an interesting case because Predator Mode was such a memorable debut, and while he has yet to surpass that record’s promise, “No Guestlist” b/w “Still Got The Feeling” easily reiterates its energy.