The future is bright for Vancouver-bred, Montreal-residing DJ and experimental electronic artist Boha. After a solid run of EPs, which saw him putting his distinct spin on a hybrid of futuristic house-techno thumpers, culminating in last year’s epic, soulful Janette King collaboration, “Dots”, Boha is back. This time, he’s swapped the melodic, transcendent rushes of euphoria abundant in his previous work for a more embattled, chaotic, dystopian sound.
“Serenity in Chaos” doesn’t so much unfold as it pummels its way into your ear cavities. As Boha himself describes it, this EP is “a reclamation of the obscene as sublime, subversion as emancipation”. This essential dichotomy, illustrated neatly in the very title of the EP, runs amok in every detail of these three tracks. The opening track, “East Van Cross”, wastes little time getting to the point, as seconds in, a thunderous bass crashes in like a signal from a not-so-distant post-apocalyptic future. What follows is an erratic array of post-dubstep synth squalls, mutated vocal samples of someone screaming, ringing bells that recall flashing sirens in a nuclear silo, and skittering hi-hats. What stands out about this track is the patience Boha displays in wrestling the listener into such a clustered, claustrophobic sonic environment before easing off and then allowing the chaos to return, each time with even more force and urgency. The ebb and flow of this track is strangely meditative.
The true standout, however, belongs to the closing track, “Gutter Deliverance”. After the jittery, techno-militaristic freak-out of “Transcendent Hustle”, Boha lets some of his more euphoric tendencies sneak in for the closer. What sounds like the beginning of another frenzied banger subtly segues into an off-kilter, stuttering four-to-the-floor stomper, replete with an infectious bass-line and a feeling of steadily climbing—reaching for an unattainable, dizzying height. As the beat cuts out towards the half-way point, an eerie ambience assumes, before being overtaken by another, even more punishing rhythm. The stops-and-starts of this track, along with the EP as a whole, never allow for the easy joys and the feeling of release typical of house and techno. Instead, Boha advocates for a steady, unrelenting procession through the rummage of sheer chaos—which in itself, allows for a uniquely rewarding, transcendent musical experience.