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(Leaf Records)

Twas just over a year ago that one Fernando Corona dropped his amazingly solid debut of Martes on my unsuspecting ears and made me a quick fan. With his blend of low-end beat programming and his love of cinematic strings, it was like a match made in heaven for me. Utopia is sort of a stepping-stone release from him that contains 4 new tracks and 7 remixes from some seriously talented individuals to help round out the mix.

Taken from a recent single of the same name, the epic of "Ulysses" opens the release and although all the familiar elements are there, Corona seems to make everything sound new again. Building ever-so-slowly, the track blends ever-harsher electronic pulses with soft strings before the track cracks at just past the halfway point and begins rumbling with a minimal dancefloor beat. "Urano" takes things in a slightly more experimental direction, opening with low string bows and clicks before melting into a creepy finale that sounds like one of the darker tracks from The Last Temptation Of Christ soundtrack.

Of the new tracks, it's "Una" that's probably the most beautiful. Looping string swells and a female chorus section, the track sputters along with plenty of glitch before finally locking into a percolating rhythm. Elsewhere on the disc, everyone else has their way with the tracks and standouts include the stunning "Muim" (stripped-down and fluttered into soft wings by Colleen), the splattery glitch workout of "Memoria" by Sutekh and the jet-black washes of crushed sound by Deathprod.

With other excellent mixes turned in by Jan Jelinek, Fax, and Icarus, there's a absolute wealth of material and fortunately it's very nearly all immaculately done. With 32 minutes of new music from Murcof and well over 40 minutes of remixes, it should be enough to hold you over until his forthcoming full-length (due in a couple months) arrives. After hearing this, I can't wait.

Rating: 8.25