CALAPSE: New Era | |  ★★★★ | Raund Haus; May 27 | 

There is a species of electronic musician who peeled off from indie rock, trading guitars and trap kits for digital audio workstations but bringing along their formative sense of melody, arrangement, and immediacy. Take Durham’s Reed Benjamin, who drummed in Greensboro’s Lilac Shadows before heading for the dance floor as CALAPSE.

Over the last six years, Benjamin has released three EPs and a number of singles, some with local tastemakers like Raund Haus and Maison Fauna, developing a distinctive blend of film-grained minimal techno and dark, driving ambient house. His brand of sensitive propulsion seems near its ideal form in New Era, the fourth and best CALAPSE EP, which is really an LP in miniature.

These eight tracks contain a lengthier, weightier emotional journey than 20-some minutes should be able to contain. They’re digitally composed with the emphasis on “composed,” sometimes suggesting staff paper as much as Ableton Live.

Not that New Era is indie in club clothing: The first song strongly suggests a cut as tasty and sophisticated as Moderat’s “Eating Hooks,” with that flexed tremolo creeping around the stereo channels, as if fearful of waking the great slumbering bass. It awakes anyway on “Neurogenesis,” a monstrous sandworm tunneling through lashing drums and arpeggios but also misted with new-age melody, all very redolent of the techno-organic guru Jon Hopkins. In many places, the supple builds and drops subside into even more meditative moods. “Flashback” resembles a preoccupied piano etude, the percussion like rain pelting a window, with a sunny flourish of what sounds like nylon strings near the end.

Of course, we’re often not quite sure what we’re hearing on New Era, which features no samples and has drums made of sine waves, chiseled from digital marble. There is also pure electro-symphonic fanfare, which rises through shining, almost screaming peaks in “Translated” and revolves in monolithic intervals in “Lucent.”

Afterward, the EP utterly succumbs into the tender mood threaded through even its brawniest tracks and pulls us down with it.

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