Artwork by Christian Velasquez

UTAH? // NITROGEN

Release Date: February 10, 2017

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Utah? returns to Symbols this February with the Nitrogen EP, the Sheffield-based artist’s elemental follow-up to 2015’s Oxygen. Working on the fringes of what has become codified as instrumental grime, Utah? boils down the rhythmic swing of garage and a hi def synth aesthetic into a potent, emotive concoction that exists just outside of the borders of both worlds. Fans of radio shows like Boxed on Rinse and Chow Down on NTS will surely recognize the sound employed on Nitrogen, a heady balance of cinematic extraction and purposeful movement with tracks like “Jackal” and “Closure” sketching out vivid worlds in fine brushstrokes. 

A UK record at its core, Nitrogen fits into a long narrative of on-the-cusp British dance music, employing mastery of past forms to create something new altogether. It’s also Utah? at his most confident, eschewing bombast for a fine tuned edge that pings between anxiety, sorrow and triumph as the record moves along. It also functions in the margins between the digital and human spaces, retaining an organic core despite its high tech construction, laser-guided basslines and haunted melodic quotient. Like the vast majority of the Symbols catalogue, expect to move and be moved by Nitrogen.

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MIXMAG REVIEW: Utah? 'Nitrogen' EP (Symbols)

One of our favourite emerging producers for a while now, Utah? is back (finally!) on Kastle’s Symbols imprint with a gorgeous new record. At seven tracks long, ‘Nitrogen’ might feel like more of a mini-album, but it draws on the sounds and loosely scientific themes he explored on 2015 EP ‘Oxygen’, only this time with a more refined and detailed touch. From the cinematic gloss of opener ‘Refraction’ to the bright, squeaky melodies and booming kicks on tracks such as ‘250ml’, it again operates on the fringes of instrumental grime, deploying flashes without ever feeling boxed in. Utah?’s handle on emotion also plays a starring role too, moving between gradual ascendancy (‘Jackal’, ‘250ml’) and more mournful inclination (‘Formula’, ‘Catalyst’) with real maturity.

8/10

On ‘250ml’, Sheffield-based producer Utah? combines icy, echoing synths with kicks and hi-hats that sound partially submerged in water. The effect could be ominous, and gloomy, but in the hands of Utah? it feels far grander – as though inviting the listener along to go exploring.
— Hyponik