Review: Active Surplus – Active Surplus

Active Surplus is nonchalant, ebbing and flowing through one song to the next.”

Representing Toronto, duo Active Surplus have dropped their self-titled EP and it’s said to be “a love letter to the house music sound that first sprouted from the West Coast.” 

Despite hailing from Central, collaborative duo Evan Vincent and Ian Syrett’s groovy melodies are a perfect match with Vancouver label Pacific Rhythm, bringing a laid-back yet saturated sound.

The EP is not their first appearance with the signature label, as their summery and eccentric track ‘Peppermint’ featured on the fourth volume of Rhythms of the Pacific, alongside Khotin and Wolfey.

Inspired by the slippery and stuttering drum patterns of the Baltimore club, the EP’s first track, ‘Yaye’, begins with a vast and anthemic clapping beat. The introduction of the chant sample from a Nomadic tribe switches the pace but continues the ethos of excitement and groove. The pads used at the end cool down the rhythm to a smooth closure, but it is the repetitive vocals that resonate after the track ends.

‘Ambrosia’ derives from Greek, meaning ‘elixir of life’, and this track reflects just that. The opening beat mimics a heartbeat and the accompanying sound FX imitate deep inhales and exhales, almost as if the track is warming up. It continues this physicality with a crescendo rolling wave of chords, overlapping the harsher melody to create a contrast of calmness with eclectic percussion.

The jazzy-styled ‘One Beyond’ follows – its steady and silky looped chords create a light dreamscape. The introduction of siren sounds at the end adds to the mellow body rhythm which would serve well at an after party.

Final track ‘Meera’ is the most saturated of the four, with multiple layers of instrumentation: a steady melodic pattern, rippling percussion, plucked strings and the addition of subtle vocals. It evokes a calm groove and is a song you would want to hear in the early morning hours to keep the ambience going. 

Active Surplus is nonchalant, ebbing and flowing through one song to the next. This may seem monotonous on the surface, but each track references different influences from jazz to tribal music, representing Toronto’s house music scene in the West Coast. ‘Yaye’ is the clear stand out track.

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