You’d be excused to expect something darker than dark from an EP called Where Your Rope Ends Is Where I Start, but instead the latest EP from Portuguese producer Holldën serves up four tracks that are more utopian science fiction than grim cyberpunk. This is Holldën’s fifth release of 2021, with previous releases on labels such as Rhod Records and Disturb •, as well as being his first release on the French label Quartz Rec.

Aptly, the release starts off with Les Douces Atrocités, a sleek and futuristic number reminiscent of Jeff Mills at his more melodic, with complex synthlines that are used to great effect to fill out the space of the track. Throughout, a persistent blaster zap creates the impression of a battle between stormtroopers raging around you. The A-side also contains Where We Take You, a fast-paced yet relatively light-hearted tool that is almost two tracks in one, bringing in a far deeper bassline in the second half of the track that changes the atmosphere to something far darker.

The B-side starts with the hi-hat driven percussive bounce of Law of the Land. While structurally straight-forward, variation is developed with some stuttering syncopation and the track reaches a crescendo of crashing percussion before winding back down for the finish. Holldën kept the best for last though, as the closer, Wiped, is the highlight of the EP. Bringing in a slight layer of murky roughness on the production, it is driven by a big melodic bassline that reminds me of a sped-up version of the sort of melodic deep house released on Smallville. An unlikely comparison but one that works wonders, and as the track develops, the listener can’t help but be drawn into the groove.

Where Your Rope Ends Is Where I Start Out is available now on Quartz Rec‘s Bandcamp.