'Difficult second album syndrome' doesn't generally seem to affect electronic music producers as much as it does rock bands, for obvious reasons. Nonetheless, any artist's sophomore long-player IS usually a pretty good indicator of whether they're gonna be in this for the long haul, or whether their star is one that shone brightly but briefly. Thankfully on this evidence, we can officially file Sare in the former category.
What's perhaps the trickiest feat for a second-album producer to pull off is to ensure some sort of continuity with his/her/their debut, without merely repeating the same notes in a different order. And Havlicek has managed to do that admirably here, for while Escape Machine largely stays in nu-disco territory (thus ensuring continuity), it also sees him exploring a broader sound palette than before. Where Toscana Nights was pretty much all about the analogue Italo synths, this time out pianos, strings and other instruments have a bigger role to play. There are also a handful of guest vocals (from Mitja, and from Charlie Denholm of Molly Wagger)
Stylistically, Sare veers a little closer than previously towards house tempos/rhythms as well – see, for instance, Sense Station, a piano-led romp for sun-drenched Iberican afternoon sessions if ever I heard one. That said, if it's those glacial Italo analogue workouts you're after, there's still a few of those, too…
In fact, you could sum up Escape Machine by describing it as "like Toscana Nights, but more rounded". And as I loved Toscana Nights, you can imagine how I'm lovin' this.
Out: This week
About: Here's where Nang live online