It’s a bit of a mystery as to why Starkey has never really received the recognition he deserves. Maybe it’s because upon Googling ‘Starkey’, the first result that comes up is a British hearing aid manufacturer and the fifth result is the Wikipedia page of constitutional historian David Starkey. However, when he’s not designing the latest tinnitus treatment solution or writing about the life and times of Henry VIII, Paul Geissinger is putting out release after release of severely underrated ‘bass’ music.
The Philly producer’s previous release, 2012’s Orbits, sounded like the kind of super sci-fi beat music that aliens inhabiting Mars would get down to, and with names such as “Renegade Starship”, “Crashing Sphere” and “The Shuttle”, you’d be forgiven for thinking the album was tailor-made for extra-terrestrial life forms. His latest release, the five-track Inter-Mission, veers away from the cosmic-themed track names, but the astral-influenced cover artwork hints as to exactly where Starkey’s musical preferences are rooted.
Jump into the first track “Poison” and you’re instantly greeted by floating, spacious synths that wouldn’t sound out of place on a modern day remake of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Eventually, the pieces fall into place and Leah Smith’s terrific vocals (and incredibly catchy chorus melody) lead the way in what is undoubtedly a great 21st century pop song. Unfortunately, the track fades far too quickly and is replaced by some more waffle-y and unnecessary synth work.
Fortunately, Starkey snaps out of his ambient daydream and follows up the opener with “Back At It”, a pummelling beat that takes it fair share of dubstep and L.A. beat influences and transforms it into something much more bearable than your average Skrillex track. If nothing else, the super crisp production is a real treat for production geeks. Elsewhere there’s “Lies”, a bulky, sinister track that sounds like something TNGHT would produce if they had a studio space on the Apollo 9 rocket, the completely contrasting silky R&B sheen of “Crystal” featuring fellow Philly resident Curly Castro spitting lines such as “there’s an interstellar war in space no one is safe from” and “Space” (come on now, seriously?), which seriously benefits from some sumptuous vocals courtesy of U.K. singer Nina Smith.
Despite only being five tracks long, Inter-Mission manages to cover pop, dubstep, trap, rap and L.A. beat music all within its short timespan, and never once sounds amateurish or contrived. The contributions are sensible and nothing more than that, and for such an eccentric EP it would’ve been good to hear some more character in the vocals; the line – “It’s do me season/I do me, you just do you” from “Space” being the epitome of lyrical mediocrity.
Inter-Mission doesn’t quite top the more club-centric sounds of last year’s Orbits, and instead just reminds us of what he could be capable of, providing he doesn’t pack his bags and set up home on an unidentified planet any time soon.