London’s Mani Festo has launched his own label, Flightpath — sharing a four-track EP Higher as the inaugural release. With previous releases on the likes of Hooversound and Rupture, alongside his involvement with the Club Glow collective, Mani Festo sits at the forefront of the oldskool rave revival. With a breaks-centric sound and gleaming love for all things hardcore, Higher is every bit as exciting as we’ve come to expect from the DJ/producer.
Titles track “Higher” channels '90s rave in a way that few can manage; euphoric piano chords are married with heavy-duty breakbeats, with pitched-up vocal snippets acting as a nostalgic smack to the face — instantly transporting you to a happy place. One of the best emotional bangers 2021 has heard, “Higher” is everything we’ve been looking for. “Rail Gun” jumps straight in at the deep end, with bass-heavy breaks and mutant synths proving to be a match made in heaven. Perfect for moody warehouses and dark basements, there’s no messing about here. Distinctly UK but noticeably otherworldly, Mani Festo has the balance just right.
Leaving the breakbeats aside for a moment, “The Reaper” adopts a four-to-the-floor rhythm, which slowly descends into savagery. Muffled vocals and hi-hats aplenty keep the energy high, before the track drops into that hardcore rave sound we’ve come to know and love. Despite feeling somewhat tamer without the breakbeats, “The Reaper” remains just as heavy a hitter. “Space Raider” closes things out on just as weird a tip as one might expect. Cosmic synths, pounding breaks and shadowy elements all play a vital role in keeping things alien-esque, and the payoff is magnificent.
Higher can be streamed and purchased via Bandcamp.