Datacide 4 – Record Reviews

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Record review section of Datacide 4 with reviews by Flint Michigan, ATX, Eun, Kovert, Delinquent, Scud, border fox, The Reverend, and The Jackal.

Various Artists – Chinese Revenge – Eclectic 01
A four  track e.p by four different artists kicks off this new label – with the D’Archangelo brothers contributing the first track, opting for their much preferred hardsound rhythmic intensity, as opposed to the  eighties revival leanings recently displayed, much loved by nostalgics thinking back not looking forward. A.D.C. step up second and display more Italian broken beat tactics, not as intense as the recent Uncivilized World e.p. but still cool. On the flipside we get a different flavour with two deeper trips, firstly courtesy of ‘interr-ference’ with ‘Shadow of the clown’, relying on  random analogue monotony(in a good way) and overdriven drums    Lastly Gabriele Rizzo lays down a hi-hatless deepside cut with an echoed kick ploughing through a mover-ish landscape littered with lo-fi electronics.
Kovert

Amp tek – Declassified – Eclectic 02
Second installment from Eclectic, sees Amp tek’s – over three of the four tracks –  interpretation of breaks and sub bass, with ‘Ufo crash’, a quite tense broken beat experiment being the last. Of the strange breaks we get three very different, but at the same time similar tracks – different in levels of intensity but similar in that they all share a sense of space, atmosphere and strangeness. ‘Chupacabra’ – being  fast(a bit too fast needs pitching down as the breaks are quite busy) and quite dark with a cool t.step inspired bass . ‘Area 51’ has a melancholic feel reminiscent of some of Leo Anibaldi’s tracks on the ‘Muta’ album, injected with splintered beats sporadically and ‘Falso movimento’ a slower eerier sound with a deep bass.
Kovert

Gabriele Rizzo – La Morte Si Rinnova – Elex 03
A record of two halves, on the one hand we have two tracks reminiscent of an e.p. by Gabriele Rizzo on Plasmek a couple of years back more on a minimal 808/acid tip, and then on the other side we enter the machine with more tension and an altogether stranger atmosphere, much more interesting a lot slower but more intense and experimental with a larger sound.
Kovert

White label – Elex 04
Not sure who this is by but its similar to the more experimental side of the third Elex release and  also to Rizzo track on the first Eclectic, so i guess its Gabriele Rizzo again. Over five tracks we experience a darker, moodier, deeper sound than Elex 03, less danceable but more atmospheric. There are beats there, echoing, but sparser  metronome like.
Kovert

Phon – going Uphill e.p. – Ript Skin
Excellent, meticulously produced U.K. four tracker, with three broken beat cuts and one acid track, which kind of pales into insignificance compared with the other more experimental tracks. ‘Thrash the Rat’, ‘5 till 2 or 12’ and ‘Fireworks’. All carrying broken rhythm structures under a weight of atmosphere, creating a large but clear production, that kicks!
Kovert

Urban Disturbance 00002
The brilliant follow up to one of my favourite records of 97 keeps up the pressure and goes that little bit further.Slower and more distorted than UD001,the aftermath of a napalm attack on a densely populated housing estate.Broken,bloody,funky and hard yet intensely digital.The future of Techno.
delinquent

pHotic driVer
’Bloody Sunday’
Audio Illusion 11-
Audio Illusion once again succeed in putting ‘strange and disturbing forces into your sound system’ showcasing yet another artist intent on causing aural damage.Five well defined tracks ranging from the slowed down electro grunge breaks of ‘Special K’ to the full on lazer battle of the title track(presumably an ode to those end of the week nasal haemorrages).Applying insane arrangements to kick/noise patterns and wrenching some of the most twisted feedback imaginable out of the mixing desk,pHotic driver provides possibly the nastiest release so far on A.I.R.
Eun

Anaphylactic Shock – Suck my Stump e.p. – Amputate 01
New UK label coming with a Somatic Response-ish attitude toward frequency abuse, except not as refined or as well executed in places as the Somatics, but still laying down some cool ideas/structures and  experimenting in hardsound . At least two of the four tracks are extremely playable with only one not, thanks to a much too repetitive gangster vocal sample(s) which just gets too annoying in a short space of time. Kovert
Photic Driver
Amputate 2
Industrial drum and bass put through the mincer sprinkled liberally with strange powders cooked over a fire fuelled by 1000 big beat records.Amputate establishes itself as a major force in the U.K’s experimental underground by hardstepping all over familiar styles and Muzik friendly genres.Four cuts of broken hard noise perversions which will send purists screaming and vomiting from the dancefloor,so make sure you have a bucket and straitjacket to hand.
Eun

Somatic Responses
Future Galactic 5
More mashed mayhem from the Mutilation Chamber.”Horrorflick”kicks things off with distended skreeching synthlines and electro stabs driven by an understated kick.”Darkvoice”follows;a pounding industrialised soundblast which just go on as long as it could.Title track”Source of disturbance is a slow grind of epic proportions with layers upon layers of distortion which feels like it would collapse under its own weight if it weren’t for the filthy bass drum supporting it.Final cut “Acid Racket”is a surprisingly bouncy noise with more of an emphasis on beat construction than the previous tracks,nevertheless it builds into a high pitched white out that brings the e.p. to a halt.Basically an excellent record from the masters.(Look out for Future Galactics new sub label SixShooter for Somatic stuff).
Eun

New Skin 01
Showcasing and mutating/melding hardsound possibilities as part of a growing number of exciting U.K. new school arrangements, these five tracks cut up/break down and reassemble preconceived styles into fresh freestyle rhythms. Working with harsh generally uneffected drum sounds, noise, snatches of breaks some speedcore tendencies and dry bass to build broken structures and rough anti – rhythms.
Kovert

Various:
Zhark Compilation [Zhark CD0001]
Varied compilation from the Zhark label that draws sustenance from its links to German post-techno producers like Alec Empire, Kerosene and 4E. Threaded through with the darkbience of a four part track from Huren called Camera Obscura this compilation strays away from speed and 4/4 pitfalls  and experiments around slower spacious beats. Suprises come in the form of Hecate’s Victims of the Digits: a moody and descending sound collage that gives-off an irresolute tension and with Eradicator’s Grenade Gadget where insistent, distorted loops are pitted against funky kit-beats. El Turco Loco provides manic repetition and Alec Empire unleashes the mobile mess of dirty timbre. However the dissolute and compelling Heartattck from Lyn Powderhorn strikes through with its whispering, sleazy threats and flanged-up break. Bomb 20, Detroit Dirty Dick and Kerosene’s Heroin also feature.
Flint Michigan

Eradicator and Din – Gopherraid – Spite 02
Various manifestations of mainly hip – hop influenced breaks roughed up over six tracks, covering overdriven hard hop, speed breaks and heavy
electro.
Kovert

D.H.R.Ltd 03-Snuff Out
Wicked mini album from the ridiculously talented Patric C  who continues to release mindblowing stuff without any of the rock star nonsense of labelmate Alec Empire.Switching from  manic break beat  cut ups to heavy as fuck industrial rhythms interlinked by locked grooves and sampler chaos,”Snuff Out” is an essential record for anyone who is sick of seemless musical journeys towards the millenium.
Eun

Shizuo / Give Up:
New Kick EP
(DHR 17)
The orgasm addict David Hammer returns from his Summer vacation and brings us an EP of such awfulness  that it shines with a brilliance bordering on genius. This seems to be becoming something of a Shizuo trademark.  The catchiest (and least chaotic) track here is surely The Hooker   with its drugged-up sweaty swing-beat and sleazy ‘punani’ bass-line.  I can see this pumping out of 4 wheel-drives at traffic lights on hot Summer nights!  Which brings us to The Nutter ….My God!  This surpasses even Anarchy  !!!  Apparently it was inspired by the old Harry Enfield dime bar ad. and was recorded live in one take on a post-party LSD come down….strapping on his fender and giving the punk performance of his life the Shizu-man gives us his raw angst….a stream of pure Shizuo-consciousness.  Love it or hate it.  Shizuo absolved us all from our sins last time…..can we forgive him his?
Scud

Bodysnatcher (Dub-Plate) release imminent>>>
“Don’t be trapped by old concepts…..you’re evolving into a new being.  We don’t hate you…..there’s no need for hate now…..or love.  We adapt – And we survive!”  Dub-plate>> Dub plate>> Dub-plate>> Dub-plate>>
The Jackal

Christoph Fringeli + DJ Pure – Anti Christ – subversion 02
This is absolutely dangerous. Two mixes of probably the hardest sick step, combining  tough stepping drums –  given a metallic reverb to the beats onone mix – with some awesome evil frequency abuse and drones.
Kovert

Chrome 19-Monolith-Operation Bypass/Pipeline
A-side opens with an ominous bass which is soon joined by an off- kilter break.It then drops like an elephant .The growling warped bass and hissing kickdrum maintain the pressure.”Pipeline”on the B-side is an edgier track made up of alarms ringing,flanged helicopter noises and horror strings at  the end to make you tremble.
Reverend

Chrome 20-Problem Child-Tank/Atlantis
“Tank”is heavy metal thunder for all the techno-junglists.It has an acid riff from early ‘90s techno;combined with a distorted metal guitar ,this makes for an angry track.”Atlantis”on the other side has hints of the ‘Shadow boxing’hook,but is most noticeable for its long spoken word break in the middle(“In the year 2666 mankind will be erased from the earths surface because of lack of protection from the sunrays contamination,natural catastrophies and bio-mechanical warfare .Biogenetical scientists reached for the oceans  to make them densely populated…so life shall take place underwater…the progressive human race has alienated itself”).This opens up into a fierce track.
The Reverend

Problem Child – Tank – Chrome 20
Disorder/Futureboi – Split EP – Chrome 20.5
Whilst journalist Simon Reynolds suggests a new watershed in techstep (a plateau of musicality and a downpour of ‘the same’) the Chrome material continues in its well contoured guise. Trademark effects – sci-fi data shards, bullying bass noises – are again to the fore which go against the grain of new UK ‘two-step’ tracks with their obsessive simplicity and muffled synth sweeps. Chrome music is primarily impact driven (party tunes etc.) yet impact is watered down by their surfeit – thus the Problem Child tracks sounded awesome to a friend who’d heard no techstep but to me they sounded a little bit too close to spandex metal. The Disorder track is also pretty hard and familiar, trading on the Unabomber theme of pessimism and quoting heavily from an anti-tech standpoint whilst deliberately swamping the mix in overlaid and overamped ‘technology’. Phutureboi come from the Don-Q label and material from this label is less techstep orientated but seems to lean partly towards a grubby jazz feel which I thought we had left way behind. As for a review of the picture… well anyone who has lived through the endless rave pic-discs should find themselves on safe territory.       ATX

Various: Position Chrome [Position Chrome]
This double compilation sees the renaming of Chrome and rather than set us alight with divergent directions the tracks gathered here function as a retrospective window upon Chrome’s activity over 1997. What comes out now is that Panacea, Heinrich at Hart, Problem Child and Goner are all different people and to prove it they remix each others tracks. Though the remixes are of the creative (completely different version) type, the majority of tracks illustrate that as Position Chrome can come to be PR’d as “the only DnB label outside the UK that merits any attention”, we begin to notice that there is a ten#dency for tracks to be very similarly structured and sourced, for the dark tinges to become predictable and level and for the rhythms to become rooted: the insistent force of tech-step is maybe only sufficient  as the  sole carrier of the funk when these tracks are played-out and can reverberate amidst collision with other tracks. The exception on Position Chrome is the Heinrich at Hart side where Birds and Nature  inverts the expectation with a bouncing analogue bass-chain, a less over-dramatic breakdown, and the gradual mix-in of the beat. On Kur  the beats are slowed down and  the tech-step formula abandoned for a more deliberate placing and clashing of dissolute noises and rhythms reminiscent of Bomb 20’s EP on Riot Beats.  But this is only one view (perhaps jaundiced by over-familiarity and irrational anticipation!) and like No-U Turn’s Torque, this compilation functions really #|well as an introduction to the power and aggression of Chrome for those who didn’t get a chance to pick-up the earlier releases. The intentions are worthy of continuing support. It still justly subverts.     Flint Michigan
Heinrich at Hart: EP 2 [Chrome 16]
A prelude to his interesting tracks on Position Chrome, this single contains Old Bird Nature, a slower pacing for Chrome with a mournful trumpet refrain and tragedy-inducing bass note slides, illustrating that dark sounds often come wrapped-up in idiosyncratic moods and seem sometimes to be a step away from a too-synchronised conformity.  The A side is Secret  and continues where Vocal left-off: it never sits still and isn’t overly reliant on using fill-ins on a predominant tech-step beat. Instead it puts  various rhythms into collision and key amongst these is the sudden break into a jazz refrain and the later portion of the track being made of a snare-led shuffling roller.
Flint Michigan

Test 01  1A/Vicious   
So Damn Tuff
Rumour has it that this is Dillinja and it leaves little doubt as it’s a dirty bass monster that spits out classic electro samples and even bits of McLaren’s Buffalo Gals. The production is overall heavy and gritty and it will appeal to the 4/4 crowd as well. The Vicious side is less direct and sounds more retrospective  but both sides make great use of old material treated with new technology. Easily one of the best records around.
bf

Renegade Hardware   Quantum Mechanics  RHLP01
After a long wait;, this album is out at last and it features tracks by Future Forces, Genotype,Kane ,John B and remixes from Decoder and Dillinja. The remix of Extra Terrestrial by Genotype is fairly apocalyptic to say the least  and Germ by Genoforce is also instantly a classic but for me the finest moment is Morphosis courtesy of Kane and F Forces. This is an exquisite track using minimal sounds and sparing effects that effortlessly reaches into much darker territory. The rest of the album is also first rate and although I expected a harder package, it  wisely provides a variety of moods and styles that ensures its future force.
bf

Renegade Hardware L.P.-Quantum Mechanics
The overall effect of this album is more ‘dub’ than ‘hard’.If you are looking for a collection of fucking hardcore,this isn’t  it.Too many of the tracks here are trancey,trippy,dreamy or plinky plonky.It does have some attack in the shape of ‘Dead by Dawn’ by Future  Forces Inc (rmx) and also the Dom&Roland remix  of Genotypes  ‘Extra Terrestrial’.But unfortunatly too many of these tracks don’t really lift off in the way you would expect from this label.’Colours of Noise’ by Absolute Zero for example is very ‘80s (remember Cameo?).Felt a bit let down by this one.                                   The Reverend
Based on Base  Recoil  Sonic/Change  BOB 07
Another track here for the Taxi Driver collection as Charge brings you Mr De Niro’s voice telling you that ‘the days go with regularity over and over…and suddenly there is change’. De Niro appears on more records these days than Ed Rush and perhaps has a promising career as an MC especially if he makes any more crap films. Any way this is a useful release and Sonic would be at home on the above album with its twisted bass lines and pounding breaks. Recoil is Dylan so enuff said, you know its going to be banging
bf

Frontline 30  The Kraft   Synthetic/ Demolition
Swift continues here where he left off with his releases on True Players and Charge Records and he continues to push the mould further into the sour corner with the bassline being manipulated into a more industrial growl. Although not as hard , Synthetic is the more dynamic of the two while Demolition features an intro which is difficult to cue but provides a great pile up in the mix when dropped properly. Expect more abrasive material to come crawling out of the Kraftwerk.
bf

Virus 01  Ed Rush+Optical    Medicine/Punchbag
The avalanche of material from Rush+Optical continues unabated with no sign of a let up in sight and this new label promises much with its first release. Medicine is of course the thing you require if you’re illin and after the unsettling atmospherics and brutal tech-step deal with your symptoms, you are ready for a lethal injection of base meltdown which is then manipulated like a 303 line to awesome effect. Punchbag is more of a smokin track and it should deal with any serious side effects from the a side
bf

Tearin Vinyl 10   Shogun Assassins    Shogun Assassins/Switch
Haven’t seen much action from this label for a while but this release puts them back on the frontline. Initially, Switch seems laid back and chilled but it is underpinned with possibly the most massive flood of base around, sounding as if it was bounced of a mountain or something. It lurks throughout the track which toys with various drum  effects and patterns and then swells epically obliterating everything in its path.It’s a hard act to follow but the a side is equally interesting and more obviously disturbing. This time the base is twisted unmercifully after a suspenseful intro and it’s really too extreme for words so find it and upset you entire street.
bf

Photek Productions 001  Digital  Lower Depths/Sub Zero
Very pure drum and base here which is sensitive yet deep enough to carry it off. Perfect sunday music to calm even the most based out or a good record to launch a set with. The sounds are rich and undistorted and the drum patterns are what you would expect Photek to release;a sort of regular irregularity
bf

31 Records     
Optical        
The Bounce/The End part 1
Bounce is on a funk trip featuring chunky bass sounds with snatches of guitar and keyboard and it’s not my style at all but  The End part 1 is nothing less than a masterpiece. Luxurious swathes of synth introduce Optical’s strange broken beats and each background sound is bled into the next while a perfectly pitched guitar note pierces the air somewhere far off. The track gets deeper and more haunting until it finally piles up in the most impossible yet workable manner. Difficult to mix not least because it’s in a class of it’s own
bf

31 Records   Optical     Search/The End part2  Fortran remix
And then ther is the remix which unfortunately doesn’t do justice to the original. The drum patters are more direct and accessible but the track although not bad, lacks the depth of the original. Also, a vocal sample has been added which goes on for so long that disastrously Kate Bush comes to mind. However , search on the flip-side is much better and it sounds quite freaky with it’s eerie carnival voices drifting in and out of the voodoo hardstep. Weird science and obeah for sure.
bf

Formation 075      MA4   Step into our world/Bull Terrier
Bull Terrier is an excellent track that’s strong enough to deal with Dillinja any day. The base is fat and punchy and it has plenty of momentum, being chased along by the hounds barking throught the mix. There’s even a touch of west side sax in there for good measure. The reverse is not so thunderous but it does boast a snippet of Blondie doing Rapture and gets away with it which is no mean feat.
bf

24 Karat   015         Havok    Depth Charge/Cyclone
For those that like their hardstep fast ,minimal and drenched in a fog of base, Cyclone is the track that caters. The base swirls and loiters before finally letting loose and this is just the kind of record that fills up all the spaces in harder techstep tracks while upping the pace. Depth Charge is more straight forward hardstep which still kicks but the former makes this an essential acquisition.
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Fuze 4      The Vagrant    Stealth/The Rip
Fuze is one of the best new labels recently producing roots/dub based drum and bass along with the likes of Juice and Splash. The Rip is very much in this vein while Stealth takes some of the tremors and quakes of the former and erupts into a full scale disturbance. It breaks down in the middle only to come back twice as hard and it leaves little doubt that this label is prepared to take the sound further.
bf

Mamasan Records  007   Digital     Escape/Delight
This strong Digital release comes on an imprint from Berlin which continues the trend of quality drum and bass coming from abroad which is encouraging. Escape bristles with sharp tight percussion and clean cold far away bass sounds that put it in the Technical Itch mould. The sound level is a bit low but it’s well worth pushing the gain up for while Delight sounds more like a live session that’s further been compressed and filtered and has a much older feel to it. Lets hope more labels abroad have the sense to promote material like this.
bf

Audio Couture 001   Calyx  Cubic/Narcosis
One of two releases by Calyx around at the moment and it is a very carefully produced affair that creeps up on you and has you addicted after a few spins. Narcosis is the darker side and the bassline grows into a feline growl which is laid over a strict  hard-step. Cubic has less of the night about it  and is a more instantly likeable track but the quality of production ensures that it will be a useful and much played track.
bf

Moving Shadow 118    Calyx   Techtonic/Recal
This is the other Calyx release and again the high standard of production is maintained. Techtonic stars with a gnawing sound which eventually morphs into a full on bass line that lights up the track. This is then backed up with further warm rushes of sound while the snare maintains a hard line throughout.. Further bass experiments on Recall twist the sound almost into lyrics which will no doubt further confuse the more chemically disadvantaged.
border fox

Hardbeats No 2      
Distorted Minds    
Eventual/Technology
This is the one, yes this is the definitely the most horrible set of sounds around right now. Take the massive break from the original Shadowboxing, add some industrial waste and then introduce a bassline that sounds like some sort of nuclear 303  and you are some way towards accommodating Eventual.  If Hardbeats (Formation offshoot) are going to continue to release records in this vein they will be setting the pace for 98. Technology is no picnic either and I can imagine this release causing dizziness,fainting,mass hysreria and fallout sickness. If biological warfare is your thing ,then this record is right up your arsenal. bf

Dillinja: Violent Killa (Valve 01)
Absolutely THE record of ‘97.  One of the most powerful dark drum & bass records to date….this levels any dance-floor like a double impact nuclear bomb going off – the vast menace of the double kick at the beginning of each bar hurling the track forward, pushing everything in its wake.  Intense pressure building…. and then the oscillating, seething bass-line is finally released (like an Alien bursting from your chest!) in 4 long drawn-out swelling refrains.  Truely violent and  a killer…just the way we like it!
Scud

White Breaks 7-Scorpion
By far the most credible release so far on the generally dodgy P.C.P. breakbeat sub-label.Two mixes of doomstep darkness  which stand well with the Gyration/Chrome take on Drum and Bass.Both mixes combine Mover atmospheres with solid breaks and hovering bass to maximum effect and are thankfully free of the crap samples  that plagued previous releases.Hopefully this 12” is the start of some serious action from  P.C.P.producers working within D&B frameworks.
Eun

Scorpion:  First Bite/Second Bite [White Breaks 7]
Via Steve Shit PCP send out a message to the drum and bass fraternities which may or may not be seen as a response to the desire to hear those emotion-effect PCP sounds melded to aggressive, punchy breaks and phattest bass kicks. On First Bite this ever-addictive sense of mood-changing drama with its multiplex bass hums, twisted mentasm stabs and simple mournful synth refrains is used to good effect but it is on Second Bite where it all resonates together into something that demands intense attention, temporary suspensions and the need to be taken over. This is a phased and busy track that carries, by means of its stops and starts and well-edited fill-rushes, an air of unpredictability that is nonetheless anchored by an ensaddening refrain element t#hat plays along a line of regretful nostalgics: deeper descending notes signalling triumphant impasses. Sombre, punctuated by sound forces and physically challenging, the last moments of Second Bite feel like…
Flint Michigan
Lost 10-Cold Rush
Two absolutely devastating tracks from Mr M.Arcadipane.Was it worth the wait?stupid question.’Apocalypse Never’ drags you into a spiralling vortex constructed with evil intent before ‘Hell-E-Copter’ blasts you out into a dimension occupied by psychic rave demons intent on causing permanent neurological damage.A totally essential release full stop.
Eun

Fifth era6-Fifth era
Purposefully sinister 6 track 12”from London’s doomcore underground.All tracks display a singleminded approach to style of music that will never have its own pigeonhole in Mixmag.Oblique kicks underline a mix up of metallic screams,darkrave atmospherics and nasty little samples,whose interactions provide further evidence of an undercover movement intent on dragging the hapless trancer into the land of skullfuck.
Eun

Bold Bob
Kotzaak 9
The man known as Stickhead follows up the mighty Kotzaak Klan with this particularly vicious offering.’Dive into Steel’opens proceedings with extra heavy beats which effectivly  switch between half speed breakdowns and straight kicks at around 220bpm.The title of ‘Bold Bass 2’sums up the final track,a double speed take on the bare kick concept of the classic ‘Lost 9’.Bound to be dismissed as nihilist noise by the techno intelligentsia but fuck’em,they’re just scared.  Eun

Dead End 7-Cynical Muscle Revenger
Excellent  speedcore four tracker on Dead End,produced by the Japanese duo responsible for Burning Lazy Persons on Fischkopf.Concentrated kicks stop/start throught the E.P. in a chaotic high pressure assault.Frequent  breakdowns to minimal percussive elements allow the tracks to build up in stages with each component part  having maximum impact.This emphasis on structure makes it a wicked record to mix but also gives each track an individual identity beyond a slight kickdrum variation,a quality sadly lacking at the moment in some releases of this velocity.
Eun

Cynical Muscle Revenger
Dead End 07
This is an excellent record from the reliable Dead End label.Massive hardcore bass that just vibrates like a fucker and sends anything within a 5 mile radius away convulsing and foaming at the mouth.One of those pull your collar up,your cap down and punch the air in front of you until the veins pop out on your forehead and you realise all your mates are laughing at you sort of tunes.Add that monster of a bassline to some sweeping rushing sounds,a computer game melody and some dark synths and you have an all round decent record.My only criticisms are that occasionally it veers too much into tried and tested gabba realms and also that the intros are the best parts and after a while the tunes slip into pretty predictable breakdowns and build ups,but mix it out before it gets familiar and you’ve got a pretty formidable party weapon on the decks.
delinquent

Dead End Ltd 02-N.K.J.E.
From the same minds as Sans Pitie 2,Near Kreutzfeld Jacob Experiment ,comes this ludicrously limited(150 copies) 12”.The full-on interference of”Active Radio”opens the e.p.,beats gradually break through waves of high frequency noise causing certain distress on the dancefloor.The following tracks consist of heads down 4/4 kicks overlayed with contorting digital shrieks.The intentions of this record are made clear by the single scream  of pain which ends “Massacre a la Playstation”.Highly volatile material definitely worth seeking out .
Eun

S.O.D.O.M 007
Slaves of the Devil our Master ride once again across four tracks of deranged hardcore from Armaguet Nad and Angel Flo.Crisp kicks propel repetitive loops of vocal/mechanical noise with psychotic energy,and it is  the interplay of these loops that structure the tracks  rather than the kicks which remain constant and hypnotic.It is in this mesmerising effect that the record has its strength.It is slightly disappointing that 007 doesn’t  develop the broken speed expreriments hinted at  on their previous release but overall this is a worthy package although still not as satanic as one would hope from a label called Sodom.
Eun

Lack of Yin
Contrarotative 1-
Produced by the confusingly named A.F.X.Dub(Richard James meets Lee Perry??),the first release on Speed Yq’s label is a similarly confusing release.The five tracks onboard range from slightly cheesy hard techno to full on speedcore with broken noise experiments along the way.At its best moments Lack of Yin is abrasive and fucked up but a couple of  otherwise good tracks let the e.p.down with daft samples.Worth checking out  anyhow.
Eun

Omnibot-Syntax Error?
California;sun,sea,space-trance and speedcore?!.Six tracks of the latter thankfully.Wicked lo-tech hardcore grunge from the West coast based Vinyl Communications label.The live production style is sort of Explore Toi ish but operates on a more twisted primal angle.Tracks evolve into a maelstrom of  f.x. and feedback only to be reduced to single wavering tones dispensing with any conventional structural design.The e.p. is complimented with excellent cover graphics which link well with the  concepts related by the music of user/machine relationships.The only criticism  is the quiet cut but this can be sorted with a bit of e.q.ing .
Eun

Reverse records 2-Jean Bud
The long awaited follow up to one of last years best records comes in the form of a two track 7”.Both tracks explore broken up hardcore in a direct and brutal style.’Verdun 2050’ uses a crisply edited breakbeat in amongst its stuttering kicks,whilst’Gueule quand tas mal’ relies on amplified’grosse pieds’to hammer its message across.Both tracks are brief and to the point and leave you wanting more.Hopefully this signals the beginning of some serious experimentation in French hardcore structures from Reverse and that number three will come out sometime this year.                       Eun

Beast 7-Nitrogene e.p.-Aura Exiter
It’s good to see Beast back on form after the truly awful Lenny Dee effort on number seven.Aura Exiter provide four sharp edged cuts which are more fast techno than speedcore in the combinations of sounds used.’Twinbeat’builds from a sci-fi intro into a powerful piece using half speed kicks and mutating frequencies.The kick/percussion patterns determine the direction of tracks rather than the surface textures which drift in and out of the mix in F.Xed layers.A solid and fresh sounding e.p., catch it now at your local crumbling warehouse.
Eun

Contrarotative 2-Trip et Farouche
Interesting follow up to the so-so first release on Contrarotative.’Track 0001 dbase’ takes up one side of this 12” with a disjointed broken intro leading to a mid paced cut up.Spinbacks and damaged samples seperate hardbeats and the sounds of speeding traffic,all boosted by Speed Yq’s high energy production techniques and aimed squarely at the dancefloor. Eun

No Disco E.P- Virtualian-  
THRUST 03.
4 tracks of hard techno  from Marseille,  50% of which is worth buying  the E. P for.  “Brocoli” and “Thrust in Peace” are two slabs of energetic and forceful hard techno.  Industrial sounds and manic loops drive forward and build up to a wicked crescendo.  Total hard dancecore.  Play on 45 for maximum crowd mashing.
delinquent

Double Face- SKYLAB.
Another record that hits the target is this mysterious French 4-tracker on Skylab by Double Face.  The second tunes on either side are the best.  Crystal clear,  driving techno on a pukka loud pressing.  Monotonous and repetitive punchy kicks layered with screeching hypnotics.
delinquent

F.T.S 01/ F.T.S 02
I have to admit to being a bit of a Francophile when it comes to Techno after a recent spate of excellent French releases.  Another two Gallic gems are two blue 10 inch E.P.s from FTS.  Ranging from laid back atmospheric to full-on late night assaults.  The highlight for me is one trak on FTS 02 that coolly punches you in the chest with a wicked kik drum.  Excellent tension between broken sections and straight banging sometimes straying into doublespeed territory all the while seriously fucked hi-hats making it groovy.  Spiral Trance after a few sessions in the gym and an intensive course of steroids.
delinquent  

Nightmare
Neural Network
3 original sounding tracks,1 slow and 2 faster.Acidic,dark sweeping breakbeat driven techno.Cavernous and deep.Subterranean music for smoke-filled basements.
delinquent

Nitrogene E.P.
Aura Exiter
Beast 07
The latest offering from the French hardcore label which ranges from excellence to turd is a solid and cool 4 tracker from D.J.Olive.Rough kicks overlaid with effects laden crystalline sounds,acidic industrial noise.Powerful and distorted party hardcore at around 200b.p.m.
delinquent

Riz-Corde
Barbara Gouuld
Keep Techno Crap!the Label proclaims.This NTW23 related release(you may not believe me,but honestly)is truly experimental.Insects crawling over a drum machine,clicking,tapping and dull thumping percussion weave around cheesy-weird old skool basslines.Definitely”spiral”but a new and welcome direction,more in a Unit Moebius/Acid Orange vein.
delinquent

Les Boucles Etranges
Neural Network
Cool 2 tracker from Teknival live set veterans Les Boucles Etranges.Superficially this could be lots of other French Techno records but listen closer (or louder)and there is something manevolent dwelling within the 4/4 hi-hat structure,a gremlin whose sole desire is to see you a gibbering vegetable in a dark corner of some seedy party.The little demon who sits on your shoulder and tells you to slip a black microdot into the evian water of that smiling faced raver who keeps asking you for chewing gum.2 pukka fast techno tunes with a subtle elusive edge that hitches a ride on the thumping bassline.Unsettling and large.
delinquent

Sycamor 1
The French have breathed new life into  4beat hardcore techno and this is a perfect example of that sound they have made their own.Banging rough beats sit comfortably with junglistic breaks and spaced-out cold minimal sounds.Kiks hard and still keeps that cerebral,icy and dystopian ambience that all good techno should have.Like C-Tank,Caustic Visions and Magnetic North did all those years ago but few have managed to achieve since.
delinquent

DJ Neutrik
Isotope 11
Unmistakable NTW23 style of music and anti-celebrity graphics here.(There is a few new Isotope records around at the moment but go for this one in the black sleeve if you know what’s bad for you.)Has that trademark malfunctioning hyperactive android trying to kick his way out the speaker sound that certain old spiral records had.Just when you think it cant  get any more paranoid,manic and robotic some other mad loop drops in until it sounds like a flock of cybernetic sparrows killing each other with electric drills,when the tune ends suddenly your ears take about half an hour to adjust to terrestrial sound waves.
delinquent

Zero Zero One-Zero Zero
French sound system  Double 0’s first release comes as a pleasant surprise,dirty distorted loops roll out across four tracks of mid paced techno.There are obvious Spiral influences to some of the percussion patterns and the e.p. is most impressive in its more chaotic moments when the 4/4 lets rougher noise break through.Track B1 has the amusing effect of  making speakers seem blown through it s overdriven bassline resulting in horrified expressions on sound engineers faces. Worth getting for that fact alone.
Eun

She sees with her hands – Controlled Weirdness / Warlock – Unearthly 03
Unearthly touch down with the third wave, and deliver a four track program of deep minimal sometimes offbeat rhythms, featuring a hypnotic mix of raw drums and analogues best illustrated by  the A side with  the wicked ‘Razor Steppin’ a powerful groove combining a deep talking bass and  sideways stepping drum track with a claustrophobic high pitch drone, and ‘South London Strutt’ a well balanced  rolling tom and snare train-like rhythm.
Kovert

Unearthly 3-Warlock&Controlled Weirdness
Quality e.p. from two of U.K.technos lowest profile operators.Over four minimalist tracks feelings of isolation,dislocation and confusion pervade.They exist within a funk vacuum where individual loops interlock and disengage in esoteric functions.The standout track for me is “Fingers”with its constantly twisting synth pulses which relish in their own dark potential.
Eun

Dakar + Grinser – Ain’t No Turning Back – Disko B 63
Susanne Brokesch – Sharing the Sunhat – Disko B 60
Kirlian – Pleasure Yourself – Disko B 65
Disko B seem to be able to confuse even the most well-defended reviewers by denying the existence of a focal point, strategy and attitude. Like a painting-by-numbers kit we can claim credibility points for championing Disko B in putting out cool material by Inter-ference and Unit Moebius, but what do we make of their Cheap-esque takes on disco/techno-trash? The Kirlian album is horrendous for all of its 60 plus minutes, basing itself as a disco soundtrack to celebrate jerking off. The Dakar + Grinser 12” is in a similar vein to last years ‘Shot Down in Reno’ and consists of tweaking odd noises into tired structures which has a 50% hit rate (with me) – i.e. 2 good tracks, 2 duff tracks here. The Brokesch double pack is a schizoid celebration of the minute processes that taint and already hugely tainted ‘everyday life’, thrown together with hip hop breakbeats. Close to the obsessive proximity and anti-stylistic abandon of the Jazz fudge label, but with that hip Viennese attitude that everyone raves about….
ATX

Traktor 3000 – ep’s 1 + 2 – Din
Monolake – Arte/Occam – Din
Various – 8/8.5/9 – Fatcat
Musical style and mode of operation are cloaked in secrecy and bland aesthetics suggesting organic offshoots from the Chain Reaction nuclei. The trademarks are all here – hanging tones, heavy static, backgrounded beat patterns that when located start to fall out of sync with everything, and an emergent fluidity that defies itself and parodies its ‘proper’ self in trance. The traktor ep’s have more of a bass-kick than the CR meterial – but the sublime disregard is maintained for those expecting a standard techno workout on all but the last 2 tracks which start to use snare builds, peaks, drops, etc. Illustrates the full range of subtleties that lie between deliberately being against a form of music, the dialectic between abandonment and subversion.  The Monolake cuts are more chilled and again play with modes of saturation and post-saturation – presenting a dilemma in reviewing in that you know this material has limited shelf live in your head. The Fat Cat ep is even more saturated in style, mimicking a helicopter that surveils the street – turning, moving – altering the pitch intensity and direction of the consistent whir of the blades. Ideally a weapon against those who have internalised complacency.
ATX

Phoenecia – Randa Roomet – Warp 98
A welcome return to old skool Warp – making records where the emphasis is on not much (apparently) happening as opposed to the freneticism of recent Squarepusher and Aphex releases. Phoenecia are part of the ‘From Beyond…’ assembly that have been working out on Interdimensional Transitions – rapidly in danger of becoming a Manson-esque post-techno cult. Four tracks here spread across 2 vinyls, all worth checking – works best at 33 where the bass drags, the chords stumble, the noises really clang and the drums stay slow. There’s a strange re-emergence of heavily repeated and slowed down patterns that takes in such as the new Somatics material, the newly promised i-F album and of course Autechre. Musically it’s part of the wider sweep of the previous undercurrent of electro, emerging once again with more than just journalistic titilation – complex beat patterns inserted into simple loops, sound strains between ambient and industrial, hisses and leaks in production…. Best thing on Warp for a while.
ATX

Gerhard Deluxxe – Spiral Architect – Sabotage/Craft 26
Bannlust – Digital Tensions CD – Sabotage/Craft 27
Matt Winch – Can’t Play Remixes – Sabotage/Craft 28
Potuznik rides the crest of the Viennese wave of ultra-hipness as Sabotage play in the whirlpools and eddies that sweep behind such media fervour, paddling in the garbage of discorded glossy photos, banal interviews and expense accounts. His 4-tracker is loosely drum and bass with the best track (c) using an evil Cabaret Voltaire tension chord to sidestep the formularised paths to darkness. The other three tracks extend the Cheap style of pastiche moving closer to ragga than anything new.
Bannlust is Marco Fischer who co-ordinates the gritty label Science City and also records as Krok producing machine driven, paranoid electro. Bannlust is closer to Autechre, jerking across a grid of electronic noise using input data from tensions, moods, noises, uncomfortable sounds, machine codes and switchovers. Close (in parts) to both Rephlex and Throbbing Gristle, but such parallels are only a symptom of my laziness, at the heart of it there is a true tension, a tension between the sheer impact of the obscure sound sources and the subtlety of their arrangement. If we were to keep with fashionable traditions we could suggest this as a soundtrack for late night browsing of the multi-noded, right-wing conspiracy web-sites.
For the Matt Winch remixes we see Labradford taking and extending the original minimal musicality, whereas Christoph Reimann extends the original playful attitude. The result is two tracks that sound remarkably similar though obviously arrived at through different processes.
ATX

TAO – Esoteric Red – Language WordV5
Rumours of a rediscovered 23 Skidoo feel with industrial funk veteran Tony Thorpe’s Language label. One side of this album hits the mark taking and extending the acyrilic ethno feel and fat basslines of ‘Gospel Comes to New Guinea’ – with only a slight nod towards categorising as drum and bass – and complementing it with tracks based around counter-directed samples and the feel that there is (in the distance) other tracks playing sweetly and sickly in sync. The other side of the album is closer to the grotesquely over fed Big Beat genre – and if my spies are right I am led to believe that 23 Skidoo’s much anticipated comeback release (on Virgin) was stalled due to its striking similarity to Underworld. Oh dear. Tony Thorpe deserves respect for pushing this (and last year’s Biomuse material)… creating a wormhole through the 90’s for thin boy white funk to emerge. (Review curtailed due to build up of clouds of nostalgia).
ATX

Modulation and Transformation 3 – Mille Plateaux MP43
IndustrialSampleCoreGrouchBeat – Mille Plateaux 41
Two differing compilations. Part in Spite of, and part irony towards, the Wire’s recent accusation  that Mille Plateaux had reached a po-mo critical meltdown comes this triple pack of uncompromising material… they should have gone all the way and called it “Now That’s What I Call Post-Structuralism”. Modulation and Transformation is a show of strength  and commitment and comes without the recently developed user-friendly-ish theoretical packaging of some Mille Plateaux material. Tracks are laid out to be consumed, a subtle and slinky subversion operating at the outermost level – i.e. time to make a choice – the end of choices? To begin with you get Oval/Curd Data/Arno Peeters with new material all sharinga no-fixed-point-of-origon. You get the picture? Here’s the holiday snaps: ‘Blue Byte’ (who?) sound like they’ve been rifling through Porter Ricks trash can (and enjoying it), ‘Gas’ who invent amoeba trance, the crushed beats of ‘Steel’ and the fact that the ‘4E’ track sounds like you crawled through a pipe in an effort to listen to the Steel track and got stuck in the middle. There’s sdtuff from Panacea and Spooky but we are assured that the Electric Ladyland series will still be continued regardless of this excellent release. Frightening.
The industrial…. album isn’t as bad as I’d been led to believe but isn[‘t as good as belief that these London/Brighton musicians have in themselves as the pioneers of anti-complacency. The garment in question is the much touted ‘drill’n’bass’ – a kind of student music for the evolutionary clique above big beat. What worries me is the fact that I’d probably be into this stuff if I was a lot younger! What I’m saying is that it all seems so deliberate and deliberately ‘anti’ that, after 20 odd years of buying records etc. you can see through it. To be fair, side A is very good – more spirit and funk – but the rest is kind of ultra controlled ‘uncontrolledness’… frenetic drum patterns, silly samples, cut and paste to infinity. Ever since punk there has been a current instigated by Nurse With Wound and propped up by such as the Butthole Surfers, a worshipping of the quest to be… well… different. And it seems that after 10 years of hustling dance music that ‘difference’ is still…. well… the same.
ATX

Pametex: Car Demolition [Clone x]
Eight electro tracks of a spartan and waveringly melodic hue from the Hague’s Melvin White (aka That Nigger) that are comparable to Doppler-effekt and Ectomorph, and, like these, what Car Demolition offers is a spacious and thin sounding electro provoked by kick-distortion and emboldened by bass-riffs: a variety of drum and bass that achieves its austerity by means of understatement. What’s interesting about this elegiac electro sound is its flirtation with muted ‘song’ structures and the irony of simple melodies that come-on like the last whispered breath of human agency, an echo of a forgotten calm that is being held onto. Much of Pametex has a cinematic feel but rather than effect a lurch towards the spectacularly dystopian many of these tracks seem to be about haunting the frame when the action,#7 narrative and main characters have disappeared. An icily cool scene shifter.
Flint Michigan

The Brothers Fuck & Friend: EP [Clone 7]
Recorded at Murder Capital in Den Haag this EP serves as the second Murder Capital release and includes a remix of the low-down and seedy Minimal Fuck track that previously featured on last years Brown Elbow Conspiracy EP.  With The Brothers Fuck being Duracell and I-F the music that greets us is an idiosyncratic and vaguely deranged meta-funk: pop-hooks, bass rolls and dives, distorted vocoder intonations, cow-bells and 80s synth sounds all add up to a displaced patchwork of almost remembered tune-fragments that are foiled on each occasion by the Brothers Fuck irreverent and idiosyncratic treatment of what could be generalised as electro. What counts here, though, are the particulars of detail, timbre and attitude that move these tracks away from overly signposted categories towards an experimentation of borders that makes its many crossings audible.
Flint Michigan

V/VM & Third Eye Foundation [Fat Cat 006]
A split twelve from Fat Cat that adds up to as interesting a listen as anything else currently on offer in this ‘phase of transition’. The Third Eye Foundation track re-angles drum and bass into being a matter of the sample-montages that subsists beneath the beats, filling out spaces with a constant whirr rather than have them accent the beat. These beats then drop out of the track and the latter half meanders into a kind of soothing folk-rock! The V/VM side is made up of 4 strange and disconcerting tracks connected together by a concern for grit, clicks and sonic dirt: the first, Lumberjack WLTM, is a treble-bound and interfered-with rock pastiche. Female Pig Herder is distorting and schizzy electro; with a rhythm that withholds the bass-kick and inserts cacophonous blurts of glitch-noise as infills. Looks Unimportant moves towards a beatless terrain that  leaves the listener without the safety of a stable ground: repeating turntable loops and all manner of accented timbres and shrillness create the changing rhythms of a borderline tonality. The last track, Will Travel, uses the tension between string sounds and treated electronic dirt to create a vaguely classical soundscape where the effect of sombre notes and chords is defamiliarised by chance atonal crackles. The new funk is maybe more abstract than dance.
Flint Michigan

Various: 0161 [Skam & V/Vm & Public]
A 14 track compilation that sees the coming together of three Manchester labels in honour of either the rebuilding or the bombing of the Arndale Centre. Going by the cover and the opening track by Mild Man Jan – an illogical,  fucked up mess of city street recordings spliced to tape re-wind and treated thrash –  I’ll interpret it as the latter.  Other highlights include Martian Tin Can’s intriguing take on trip-hop with filmic stabs and loose jazz break as background hiss; V/Vm’s maverick intervention of manipulating frequency into fast pulses of irregular rhythm (sadly too short); Datathief’s moody electro evocative of middle-distance Cabaret Voltaire phased to a PCP-style emotional tingle and Professor Broxburn’s scary attempt to create a soundtrack for the movie Themroc! Also includes tracks by Gescom, Bola, Jega, Jackfear, The Fall and others. Overall, it’s a useful window on some of the directional elements of a Manchester scene too long dominated by house and indie-pop. Destroy buildings, make compilations
Flint Michigan

Various (Trash) : industrialsamplecoregouchbeat  [Mille Plateaux]
A Cristian Vogel (DJ Decay) compiled selection of tracks from six Brighton based producers brought together under the collective name of Trash. Though there’s a certain amount of producer crossover with the over-rated Spunk Jazz  compilation the varying ‘break’ tracks here are alot more experimental, dirty and anarchic. Perhaps what some of these tracks suffer from at times is being at that toytown Squarepusher pace that’s a bit too obviously ‘avant-garde’:  a kind of mock-manic without secreting any adrenalin in the listener. There’s also the ‘samplecore’ side where rapid-cut samples collide interestingly like John Oswald’s pluderphonics or Scott Hausen and Walkman but tend to get a bit boring because they dictate the rhythmics of the track. Still, it’s refreshing to hear tracks with off-the-wall sources that don’t rely on familiar beat-genres: tech-step, 4/4, electro, trip-hop etc.            Flint Michigan

Restgeraeusch Vol II : 2 x 30 min. 30 sec [Mille Plateaux CD]
A noise project that draws largely upon amplifying usually inaudible sounds by “inserting within a frequency range” and reinstating the noises into an analogue format? Something like Disinformation but on the first track the noises (“infinite feedback activated”),  are brought to interact around simple rhythmic synth refrains and varying inconstant and dirtied-up drum samples. This ensures that we are not just subjected to a noise blare-out but can come to move around inside these noises that are full of very rich and hopelessly indescribable timbres: distortion, swooshes, varying degrees of ‘thickness’,  clicks, sub-melodics, drones, white-outs etc. This listener-space is emphasised in the opening part of the track with its circular panning-sensation that has shards of grit following each other around. The drum samples on this track also seem to become infected by these newly audible noises and take on a similar infill role whilst the noises act rhythmically. Whereas this first track works as one long piece with elements reoccurring, the second track, recorded simultaneously in a different studio in a different town, has several short sections and two longer ones. What comes through initially is that source samples/random recordings (a tech-step beat and a light string sound?) are totally fucked over, densified without becoming obliterated, and then transformed. Indeed, this second track continually moves on to new sounds and the attempt to source them, register all that is there, becomes hopeless amidst a growing complexity. The latter part of this track contrasts with its previous intent  by being hardly there at all: quiet noise, infinitely spacious. In one micro-moment the ‘understood’ noise of a plane passing-by is subtly introduced before it is treated to a de-familiarising reverberation and perhaps it is such audibly familiar elements in both tracks, their sparing and mutating use, that allows the found-sounds to act almost physically upon us. However, just as it is unclear whether Restgeraeusch is the name of an auditory process or a monicker chosen by the anonymous producers, so too, this aural exploration cannot be received as ‘music’ or ‘noise’, but as the conveyor of a sensation that there are new material  possibilities inherent in that which is previously indiscernible.                                   Flint Michigan

Richard Thomas: Something With Milk In [Lo 6]
After the interesting sample-based tracks on Leaf’s Invisible Soundtracks series that had a strange beatless and unfocused mood, somewhere in the region of virtual#melodics and reactivated kitsch,  the tracks on this EP seem to be anchored too rigidly around using slow fusion-kit samples and, on one side, Milesesque trumpet lines. Whilst this gives tracks a fresh and forgotten sound, closer listening does not reveal too many fissures opening up and this seems to give the EP the feel of an improvising group rather than of new hybrids veering away from source.           Flint Michigan
Curd Duca: Switched-On Wagner [Mille Plateaux]
A poignant if ultimately annoying  rendition of Wagner fragments via a Moog synthesiser which works better for me as a concept to ponder over rather than as a charged listening experienece (who says a record is only for playing?)  Durca seems to be doing to German traditionalism what the Residents did to the pop-myth of the Beatles: torturing us with dimly perceived refrains and rhythms, bending, reassembling and clipping passages, giving the music a discontinuity and, by using a lot of reverb, a distancing, timeslip sound quality. However, if the ‘music’ has other subversive intentions aside from the re-appropriation and commentary upon cultural mainstays then you’d maybe expect something a little more aggressive, dirty and irreverent; something that moves us away from what could be perceived as a fascinated study of Wagner’s music that could be easily contextualised in the avant-conservatoires.
Flint Michigan

Experimental Audio Research: The Köner Experiment [Mille Plateaux]
This record bears all the hallmarks in its sound of a group-effusion. Six  musicians using a range of acoustic and electronic instruments create 10 pieces that are later re-mixed and reconstructed by the Porter Ricks people. On this CD, E.A.R refuse to fall into the improvisatory hole of allowing six egos to battle for predominance. Thesre are no demonstrations of virtuosity, neither are there specifically recognisable instruments that pull the listener towards genre. Instead, because it’s a matter of keeping to the pulsed pacing and creating textures of sound around, over and through this pulsing, there is no blaring cacophony but a sequence of dark, expansive atmospheres. Ricochets pass through, leave traces that build, swerve back to reveal an always possible silence.
Flint Michigan

Sensational: Loaded With Power [Wordsound CD22]
Minimal, druggy and slurred hip-hop with meandering and laconic rapping from a former member of the Jungle Brothers. This is drunk funk from a bunker recording studio, all intimate voice cracks and noise and sample shards. The opener, Thick Marker, cloys up the echo-tipped snares with a cool bass glurg and sets the scene for what follows: spacious inhabitable tracks with no ‘musical’ pretensions… put together with various bits of turntable and instrumental detritus in an improvisatory but controlled way. Not scared to occasionally use drum-machines instead of  sacred and sourced funk breaks is just one of the elements that seem to place Sensational at  hip-hop’s fringe and what comes through on tra#Gcks like Freak Styler  and Skint n Scatterin  is the contagious enjoyment of making the tracks… they don’t  come over as self-consciously aimed anywhere and so have the effect of making the listener into someone sat in on an imagined session.
Flint Michigan

Various: Subterranean Hitz Vol.2 [Wordsound]
If there can perhaps be no more off-putting category than ‘Illbient’ then what’s worse is how it doesn’t seem to come near to registering what the music it supposedly refers to sounds like. The ‘ill’ may refer to the Ill Saint of Wordsound (?) and the ‘bient’ to a kind of electronica crossover and, in this vein,  this compilation presents a hip-hop that is  ‘knowing’ without being smug and eclectic enough in its sound sources to hold attention across its countless tracks.  So, from the sureshot abeyance #Dof the Rob Swift track  (all minimal hanging)  to the skewed blackhole of Spectre’s enlivening  drudge-beats we encounter all manner of hip-hop-type experiments ranging from Djinji Brown’s aggressive Public Enemy rapping (I’m spittin right at’cha… I don’t give a fuck), Mr Dead’s pugnacious version of Tears Of A Clown and Scotty Hard’s melding of down#ward beats to movie soundtrack strings. As with Sensational, who also feature, the rapping is of the kind that doesn’t make you squirm but calls you back to check how the inflection curls round the beat or to enjoy how it parodies the posturing we are accustomed to. Mr Sayyid’s breathless amphetamine invocation is an example of the first and Hawd Gangstuh Rappuh’s lunatic and fucked-up Masters of The Universe fills in the latter. Where were you in 1994?
Flint Michigan

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