Between wistful dreams and chugging determination, one finds Echoes of Paradise, the first collaborative EP released on Lick My Deck. The release presents the work of LMD’s founder Shaun Soomro and Mikael Stavöstrand, who has previously released three times on the London-based imprint. Echoes of Paradise comes after the two spent a healthy length of time crafting tracks in the alchemical hive of their two studios. It also follows Soomro’s debut Journey To Delirium in 2013 (on LMD) and Stavöstrand’s The Light Of Morning in 2014. While Journey introduced Soomro with a jacking, pulsing mass of house, and Stavöstrand’s most recent work brought the producer further into delicate and seductive territories, the pairing of their sensibilities creates a world wholly theirs, a world where the club becomes a set for a film noir.

Immediately on introduction, one is transported to a dark and ponderous place with foggy windows and empty streets, a tinge of paranoia creeping in with soft alternating drum hits and a whooshing restless loop. A steel drum melody runs over quiet convulsions of stretched samples and a steady snare, creating a sense of woozy wonder, signaled by a rolling synth, echoing in an off-kilter groove. As we move forward, there’s a feeling of purpose, whether we’re on a mission to meet a lover by the harbor or to finish a hit for a local crime syndicate. At roughly three minutes, we get down to it: In an otherwise unlit street, an unmarked door opens and a line of light appears by our feet. A dry and affirming hi-hat emerges, beckoning us inside, followed by a thinned-out violin break, guiding us into the grips of an inner ritual, miles away from urban grit. When we come-to, a clackity percussion layer forms around the previous hats; here we can imagine ghost voices of pirate radio creeping through the walls. The steel drum and percussion weave through, adding to a distant memory of garage. Now the building starts to melt, and we swim through the final bowing of strings, letting “Street Code Symphony (W10)” carry us into the throws of a satisfying mystery.

The second cut, “Paradise Lost,” leads us deeper into the journey, as if diving into our new-found waters, pushing through the next layer of discovery. The DNA of the first track comes with us (marked by the same key of D minor), but now the leading melody has mutated in a dub amphibian, cooing in the background, gradually our violin theme comes back like a break from amnesia. And while “Street Code Symphony (W10)” maintained a reflective intimacy via methodical percussion, “Paradise Lost” pulls the pensive mind into a slinky whirl thanks to the immediate introduction of 1/16th-noted hats played like a rattle. A soft light is glowing in the background, an alien hum. Locomotive drums flirt with blippy bubbles floating to the surface, and suddenly an apparition appears in the water: the manipulated string instruments of ancient civilizations calling back to us from the first cut. Perhaps we’ve gone through a moment of doubt, but we go further, sinking into a tribal swing. Like the first track, we fall into a place that calls our names in a language we forgot how to speak, and it feels like a return.

Echoes of Paradise is a compelling short film. What is an echo of paradise? Is it a vision of the past or present? Is it alive or dead? The instrumentation calls to the idea of a paradise of ancient cultures, lost sounds, and nuances of perception that progress has stomped away and yet is accessible to us now because of that very progress. The EP harks on musical histories in a kind of sci-fi-esque re-imagination. If one recalls paradise, does it then create that place again? Or is it an entirely new vision? In terms of this release, it seems very much a forward-thinking echo. When the steam clears off your glasses, be sure to flip it for another listen and feel it for yourself again.


A1. Street Code Symphony (W10)
B1. Paradise Lost