[Tri Angle 32]
Lackluster, infuriating? Or just disposable and instantly dismissible? Is this the contemporary conundrum? Caught between the ADD and mindless craving for “more” of the social media generation/addicts and the online “like” hype and bluster of the progenitors themselves. Why even bother to release albums anymore? I’m genuinely lost for words with this particular one even after multiple listens. I wanted to like it. I follow and, more importantly, support his output by purchasing the material. I like what I perceive he is sonically stretching for. I’ve listened to this stone cold sober; after a few beers; blind drunk, but it irritates and annoys me in all states.
The simple fact of the matter is there are no bones or balls to any of it. It feels obtuse and willfully obscure. What he may think is discipline and tech skill can just as easily be dismissed as pretension, even arrogance. “Snow Leopard” my arse! (I’ve tracked one in the Karakoram my friend and only ever saw its footprints, much less imagined a shitty racket like this as a soundtrack to their elusive beauty). Any of these tracks would bring a dance floor to a rapid standstill and see punters heading to the bar or for a smoke. Nothing wrong with that. So then as a listening album where’s the focus? It stutters and farts and crashes and jackhammers away, coated with the usual soft synth pads, washes and cod sci-fi FX/design, disappointingly veering into the weakest and most tired of breakcore undynamics. Only by the end of the 7th track “Pandemic” do we get any sense of slamming groove or focus evolving. And “Burnerz” finally gets into gear (for all of 3 mins or so) in a kind of vintage Italian Broken Beat stylee (think SNS, Anibaldi, ADC and their ilk). But by then so what? There’s a limit to the interest one can hold to repetitive “deconstruction”.
This should by rights be the last statement Rabit makes in this area, but after his even more useless and wretchedly awful 12” with Dedekind Cut on Ninja Tune I fear the man really has disappeared up his own proverbial.
I had a History teacher at school who used to score through whole paragraphs of our teenage scribblings with a red pen and capital letter “WAFFLE!”. Funny I should think of this and in my cantankerous middle age fully appreciate this now, but there we have it. Waffle indeed.
In contrast to Rabit’s fart-in-the-wind of an album this just seems to get better on repeat listening and feels like a well researched, deeply knowledgeable journey through past and current genres.
I have to call him out though. His biggest, most shameful faux-pas is kicking off the whole thing with an utterly by-the-book old-school breakbeat ragga re-fit(shit). Absolute derivative nonsense. By this stage I think we all have to agree there’s nothing more to say or update on the matter. My advice: avoid, delete or fast forward. It’s a better listen without.
Skirting the edges of Deep House, Techno, and Bass, the rest of the material proves a masterfully tech exploration of route finding. There’s no pointless probing or faffing around on the arrangements. They choose their line and go for it, taking in their influences without fuss and with almost casual confidence.
“Gravity” is long slow builder; a subby, banger that kills it on the breakdown with a re-polished, wobbly, reese and vintage doomcore claps. “U” is most definitely the other stand out track. Sticking to his formula of slow development and filtering in the reese damage, it’s a fine, thick, dense stew of balanced flavours.
In the end the sense is you don’t really know what you are listening to? or what genre? The micro-referencing in the patterns and shuffle, the nods to various tropes: something’s been updated but you’re never ultimately sure what?
Previously touted as something of a hybridist, into hyper-modern sound design and bastard club rhythms, this full-length nevertheless has all the sonic likeness of someone hopelessly chiselling away in a barren landscape in the Klondike Gold Rush. Desperately hoping to find that seam that reveals riches but ultimately slowly dying of cold and starvation.
I’ve invested legitimately in all previous Acre releases and don’t doubt his integrity, but one desperately longs for some release from his purgatorial, digital, flint-stoning – just one track that finally runs away with itself, carried away with a little joy that just plain cuts loose, however lumpen! Nothing here ever really feels like more than an experiment or a grimly defiant primitive sketch. Flashes of brilliance catch in the light only to disappear in the sweat of his labour like gold fever.
“Dek U” could just as well be re-named that; it’s a disturbing, hypnotic focus on a barren seam. “Automatic Fire” likewise – running low on provisions he eekes out the calories on a thin gruel of digital dross and pounds the face with blistered fingers and worn out tools. The brown note a constipated, dehydrated, thin curled stool of desperate bass.
And so the album spasms on its feverish deathbed as all is lost. Memories filter in without invitation. Chip tunes? skwee? disembodied garage diva voices? (“Holding Hands” is truly awful….God! just end it now.) It all gets thoroughly unpleasant (just as we all know it will be! maybe a major artistic achievement then?), until “Better Strangers” sounds the funereal lament and rolls the credits. Dig the grave deep so the wolves don’t get my bones.
One for the grizzled backcountry men then? Or armchair adventure travellers? Just don’t expect any comfort or pleasure.
Burned Into Memory
[Berceuse Heroique BH024]
A deliciously simple, ultra phat dance floor banger to get the sweat glistening on those young, thrashing limbs. Drenched in soggy, warehouse space reverb, this has some clinically functional, lugubrious doomcore rave qualities. As with many Bass tunes of the moment the 4/4 kick drum is simply replaced to full effect by a 4/4 bowling sub. It does the trick.
I could probably, no definitely, loose it on the dance floor to this, coming up on 3 or 4 shit Es as the sirens wash over me and green lasers strafe the crowd. But those days are gone and hey, Hodge seems to have a pungent stench of annoying scenester about him and the Berceuse Heroique label even worse (don’t even get me started on them!).
He gets way too much online gush and props for his, frankly, pretty fuckin’ conservative, minimal, faceless grey output; I’ve checked it all, believe; most of it just more pointless techno junk to add to the endlessly burning plastic scrap mountains in China. But the cyberweb intershitnet craves more of everything now, continuously, so roll on the end of the world.
Who would want to be young these days, eh? I’ll take my viagra and memories any day.
It’s almost refreshing, with all the other straining and striving going on from many other producers to hear someone who just plain knows exactly what he wants to sound like, knows exactly how to do it, and just puts his head down and throws down a mechanoid, cold, banger. No chinks in the production, no amateur edges, no indecision, just smooth and blank as a Great White’s predatory glide. In fact, one barely feels the influence of human hand or touch at all it’s so icily tech. But that’s no surprise as Artroniks productions very rarely waver from top notch on that front.
This has all the required bleakness and paranoia for late night headphone spliff sessions too. The Artroniks remix wins by a margin by ratcheting up the sawing and grinding bass ingredients making it even more robotic and alienating.
Something I used to love about old school hardcore was the use of heaven/hell, light/dark, silly/nasty juxtaposition. It always worked on a crowd under the influence. The cloying, nagging, diva sample, wailing some banality that in a fevered state might have seemed profound, the cheap piano vamp putting hands in the air – and then the drop straight into some hellish triple reversed filtered mentasm/dominator/hoover. Who knows how many brain cells were lost to this nirvana?
‘Mischieved” took me straight back to that era; a repetitive, looped, falsetto female voice trills away in the upper reaches before a truly ugly and lumpen, prolo jackboot bass crushes it with its heel and locks into a juddering metronomic groove. Expert heaven and hell dynamics.
“Run Dem” is equally fine but with a slightly more generic beat (the snare cracks exactly where it should, a Ragga sample says “Run Dem!” before the drop…you get the drift), and to be honest there’s hardly enough difference in the original and the Mershak remix; a bit gnarlier maybe but kind of a pointless exercise.
Go to Prole Sector’s blog HERE