One area of electronic dance music that doesn’t seem to be being explored is a more fucked up and experimental use of the slow-break. Force Inc.’s Electric Ladyland series is an exception and one of its frequent contributors, 4-E, has been plying this approach over a series of releases. The Don’t Fuck With Nails release on Force Inc., as well as the more recent Blue/Black on New York’s Home Entertainment label use hardened breaks and detailed electronic noise to create morph-beat tracks. Using slow breaks seems to be about creating spaces in tracks and rather than a wallowing beatless ambience or a muso referentiality to the past, the spaces can, in 4-E’s case, be alternately filled with treated sound, shards of flanged percussion, disco loops and a minimal subdued acid.
The use of acid on these tracks links the 4-E project back into the German Djungle Fever context and long standing collaborations under the Khan name with his brother Jammin’ Unit and with Walker and Kerosene. Like a lot of producers who are interested in not allowing sound to remain obvious, the early experiments stem from tape cut-ups and the influence of “punk-industrial-old German electronic shit… Suicide, 23Skidoo, Eberhard Schoener, Crass, Slits…” and then “from one day to another” a sudden interest in “60’s Soul and Disco”. Clashes such as these can be heard on the track Gangster JC with its mellow disco chords being battered by neo slap bass, flanger feedback and trip-hop pacing. But the categorisation, by some, of 4-E as a trip-hop experiment meets with short shrift from Khan: “I hate trip-hop. I call my stuff ‘futuristic-electro-no-retro’. Trip-Hop is Hip-Hop with no meaning and sense. The idea of Hip-Hop is message… what’s the trip-hop message? The 4-E stuff I designed for cars. I was inspired by Miami Bass. Just endless bass. That was three years ago. There was no trip-hop my ass. People labelled me that so I changed my style and called it ‘future-electro-no-retro and fuck off!”
This resistance to standing still and ploughing an easily recognisable furrow is reflected when Khan is asked about his current projects: “my main interest right now are my own labels: Super-8, Temple and El Turco Loco. Temple is for harder more clubby stuff. Super-8 for psychedelic-ambient-beat and El Turco Loco is for far-out stuff nobody needs! The first release on that label was Ravel’s Bolero remixed with blues and weird shit. The new one which should be out in may is porno videos run through my ‘locotronics™’ – an external input sequencer. The result sounds like a mixture of sleazy listening, industrial, 60’s avant-garde electronic. Tasty! Useless!”