all record reviews published in issue nr.5, winter 1998/1999.
Sniper and G.Q.
Dub Plate Pressure (rmx)/Roulette
Starts with the classic KRS-one keyboard riff (the one which starts his latest album). G.Q. comes in saying things like “Tearin’ down the place”, “For all the massive”, “Yeah, that’s right, for real”, “Maximum” “Bass, bass, bass!” The heavy distorted bass line plus th amen breaks makes this one a blistering jump-up tune. A real head banger.
Roulette on the other side opens with a tearing amen and then throws in a nice sub-bass. The b-line changes along with the break keeping this one live and kicking throughout. The last third of the tune is one big breakdown. 12” of the month for me.
Marine Codes/Life Dreams
Ultravibe feat. Dead Dread
Light Speed/Shallow Depth
Marine Codes opens up eery. A zooming bass and tight breaks combine with the spook chords and little echoing noises to create a ‘harsh landscape’ vibe a little bit like Frontline Records Terminal Outcasts.
Life Dreams starts with unsettling chords and a rattling rolling break. The big synth bass is accompanied by rough beats which seem to be fighting their way through the tune. One for those who just like to stand still and feel the full force of distorted, firing breakbeats.
Ultravibe’s ‘Light Speed’ has a sparse beginning with a single ‘plink’ noise and a basic two-step break. This doesn’t prepare you for the flanging synth noise which murders the rest of this track in a ‘we bring anybody down’ kind of way. Dark vibes. A favorite of Grooverider’s.
‘Shallow Depth’ on the flip-side has a similar feel to it. If you like your breaks this is not one for you. It’s all about the hard and heavy bassline.
Future Funk/Supernatural (Unison rmx)
Second Movement 32
Second Movement 33
‘Future Funk’ starts in a frantic manner, clearly intent on doing some serious dancefloor damage. What can I say about a one-note bass line? It’s all in the beats and Ascend keeps it busy with some carefully placed breaks. ‘Supernatural’ starts out all dreamy but the drums are a different matter. There seem to be about five different breaks all spliced together. It’s one of those tunes where the breaks jump out of the speakers and assault you.
Threshold (alistair Head) is on more of a rolling vibe. The bass line of ‘The Wire’ will test any speakers (one for the neighbours). ‘Bias’ on the AA-side rolls out as well, but for some reason Mr. Head has thrown in some extra fourth bar breaks for good measure. As the tune develops the b-line becomes more acidic.
We Enter/No Escape
A tune from MC/Producer Ryme Tyme with Nico on the mix. THe bassline is one of those very big squelchy ones (if you know ‘The Medicine’ by Ed Rush and Optical on their Virus label you will know what I mean). Over this Ryme Tyme says “We enter with the funk of the future.” Fore some reason this one just doesn’t get me going. I would head straight for ‘No Escape’ on the other side which stands out because of its ferocious zooming bass. A real killer of a tune this one.
The Method. Infinate Methods of Drum and Bass
Well, I looked it up in the dictionary just to make sure and it’s definitely spelt ‘Infinite’. Perhaps they wanted to avoid spelling it correctly as this word means “Having no limits or boundaries in time, space, extent of magnitude”. A fairly bold claim by anybody’s standards. Although there is a maths definition which reads “(of a set) able to be put in a one-to-one correspondence with part of itself”. Since there is a double CD of these tunes mixed together by Ray Keith I suppose this is an accurate description of the L.P.
What we have here is a good variety of styles. There are three ‘Andy C.-type’ heavy rollers (Audiostate’s ‘Methane’, Tonic’s remix of Click’n’Cycle’s ‘Trippin’’ and L.Double & Acetate’s ‘Style Wars). There is also the curious stepper from T-Power called 33rd Parallel which is more experimental. If you like Starsky and Hutch funky jungle head for Shy FX’s ‘Saturday Night Roller’. However if you want to blow those dancers away you’ve got to drop either Dylan or Ray Keith on their heads. Ray Keith’s ‘Toxic Waste’ is an absolutely blinding piece of noise. Elements of Noize are here too with a track entitles ‘Mars Needs Women’ (!?). Website is www.underclass.co.uk/emotif
Freestyles (Hype and Zinc)
This one has been around since summer ‘98 and was released prior to the album. The two tracks from Hype are both classic tough dancefloor slammers. The title track contains a lengthy ‘positive thinking/self-hypnosis’ sample (“you have the confidence and the knowledge of your supreme purpose in life” etcetc.) The beats are well thought out, shuffling and shifting, building and building using the old ‘speeded-up James Brown yelp’ to great effect. Both this tune and ‘Keepers’ have equally addictive heavy duty basslines: squelch + sub. Zinc’s contributions are somewhat less intense. ‘Musically Dope’ is more of a funky ‘Shake yer booty’ type tune while ‘Cookie’ is a laid back head-nodding roller.
Bass 1999 E.P.
Fresh Kut Records (no.10)
This is a triple-pack of no-holds-barred jump up tunes. The logo is an excellent picture of a mean looking mutant soldier with demon eyes holding a barbed broad sword drawn by DJ Facs (a consistent producer of quality tracks himself). The first track here is a remix of ‘Delikutt Beats’ which is a basic work-out while ‘Intoxicate the Rude Boy’ stands out a s a dancefloor killer. Another tune with a “You feel as if you’re gonna die but you don’t” sample has a really busy break which just pushes the tune on. My favorite sample is in the last tune:”As long as there’s something to be said in the ghetto there will be graffiti. I’m not gonna tell someone ‘you can’t express your feelings – only me. That’s not the way it works. The only way I can figure it is that they don’t like something they can’t control.” This is another fine jump-up tune. There is also a tune with a more hypnotic edge with its neverending didgeridoo style b-line. An excellent E.P.
Badder Dan Dem
‘The sound of the culture’. I’m afraid I can’t tell you who is behind the ragga vocals on this one but like it says on the tune “this is lyrics, MCing”. If you know Congo Natty then you know what to expect: The Rebel MC’s label has been making tunes with enormous basslines for some time. In case you are in any doubt as to the Congo Natty mission the samples make it quite clear. “For the last year there’s been a lot of music coming out that’s been weak” … “All that player dressing up – acting like it’s some kind of fashion show or something.” This is drum’n’bass stripped down to its rude essentials. When you hear a Congo Natty bassline you will know what I mean. I can’t work out which mix is better because they are both excellent.
D.Stein & J.Maldini
Bad Company Recordings 01
This tune is in the heavy rolling Andy C/Optical/Johnny L style. A continuous heavy sub-bass throughout drives the sound forward. The roaring bass-stabs, metallic screeching and ripping noises give the tune a menacing and industrial feel. If you like Ram Records’ latest stuff, then you’ll like this too. The Bridge on the other side is a bit like an old Full Cicle track; live jazzy bass-line, female vocal loops and snippets of guitar. You can almost see the musicians on stage creating their own little groove. Mellow.
The Ram Trilogy
Andy C, Ant Miles and Shimon
Ram Records 22-24
Split into three chapters this trilogy consists of eight different tracks. Each tune proves that the Ram Records label – from Horn Church – is still going strong and getting stronger! Starting with the overpowering No Reality which must have been one of the most asked for tunes in ‘98, going through over half an hour of blistering analogue hardstep, this is squelching, rolling, hammering and in your face dance music. The final tune Funk Station is a relentless, acidic bass-line session with original drums rolling throughout. In the neverending search for the next level once again it’s Ram Records who takes us there.
Industrial Dubwise E.P.
London Some’ting Records 013
The drums are militant, the basslines are working on a dub level of sub-bass frequencies and the few scattered vocals are distant shouts of ‘massive’ or ‘rockers’ or ‘armageddon’. As always DJ Ron has put a lot of work into the drums so that all these tunes stand up on their own. If you like the Juice Records output you will probably like this too. The title says it really.
Got’s Like Come On Thru
(Prisoners of Technology remix)
‘I start to freeze. At ease. It’s the Wu Tang Killer Bees’. P.O.T. give us their jump-up version of this Wu Tang tune from their latest album. It’s a stop/start track with a snappy jumping bassline. On its own it doesn’t really flow from beginning to end. It needs to be mixed. Party tune.
Wormhole:Ed Rush, Optical + Fierce
Streamline:from the (excellent) graphics of hi-tech blurs to the stripped down structure of the tracks. The beats are a skeleton that are rendered by synth patterns, sample sheets and the
momentum seems constant, ten tracks or one continium? The tracks make up a highly polished machine which in it’s momentum leaves a slipstream of data trails, odd configurations that are like
viewing objects from a vehicle, gone but imprinted in the memory as atmospheres, anomalies.
It is self replicating, but breeding difference. “Splinter” “Point Blank” and “Glass Eye” create ominous atmospheres; a view into a weird anatomy. The compositions are so self contained and create a total “natural” machine logic, the musical equivalent of a Von Neumann “construction description machine”. Many will not find this Drum & Bass, it does n’t fit easily into any category, which is why it works so well, just going where the machines take you. The link of Ed Rush, Optical and Fierce is a potent brew, well honed and moving into new territories. Virus is a label that confidently gets on with exploring these avenues in a single minded way.
Unison: Marine Codes/Life Dreams Promo 21
Big sound of a vortex taking it’s time to suck the listener in, huge synth sound with broken beats
in dub scurring around the whirling core, liquid gurgles make sure you drown. Shows that the ominous, fractured, sound has still got a huge power. The B side is the one.
Absolute Zero + Subphonics – The Code – Renegade Hardware
With most U.K. jungle/hardstep seemingly in a bit of a rut at the moment, losing intensity and favouring less harsh/dark scenarios, it seems harder and harder to find playable new tracks, however one side of this record, ‘The Code’ manages to cut it, all be it following the accepted formula ( x amount of bars to the breakdown, bass sounds come in and then beats kick it off) with a growling b-line cutting through a thin veil of darkness punctured by stepping drums and fast hi-hats.
Current Value – Frequency Hunt – Position Chrome
Frozen frequencies and stepping beats with hints of broken beat structures, tough reverbed kiks and an overall sharpness of sound. Fairly removed from other recent Chrome output with a clean digital sound. Although the cleanness of production hasn’t appealed to some, it seems fitting here when the overall sound is so cold. This is what makes it interesting. It has a slightly different, spacious, bleaker sound, which makes it difficult to say it sounds like this or that, less aggressive than the Panacea records but also less obviously influenced by the U.K. sound.
Global Disorder EP
Come the revolution, rich kids like Mathis and Philip will have their equipment confiscated and placed in one of a thousand large equipment libraries. Other producers will be able to take out items of equipment and recording technology and use it to feed and provoke their overburdened and agitated imaginations. Mathis and Philip will then be taken-off to one of an unfortunately vast amount of re-education centres: they will be forcefed various other forms of music by jazz collectors and soundtrack obsessives. Many other forms of music will be drilled into them, but, listening to Global Disorder, it may be necessary for them to go through the “ear within an ear” treatment as recommended be Comrade Nietzsche. This would be far preferable to them having to suffer the introductory lectures of Comrade Benjamin on “Privilege and Decadence”, but after having read Mathis diss the ‘underground’ he especially may be sent to Debordsville (formerly Derbyshire) to join Alec Empire and Dave Clarke in an intensive session of Oleg Blochin therapy: “Football: Co-operation, Solidarity and the Collective Expression of Skill”. No comics, teen-adulation or sci-fi videos allowed!
“Welcome to the Shit Generation” moans Alec Empire as he turns 40, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Squealing about the “Dead Nation” (well the dead old USA is doing A.E. proud at the moment). He ponders “the perils of being sexually assaulted by women: “She Rape”, no doubt if A.E. was involved he would shoot gallons of “Steel Cum (cause I’m rough)”. We are told “Acid’s not Enough”, exactly, acid is not enough to make this double pack vaguely interesting. DJ 6666 (oh, come on!) would have us all believe he is Charlie Manson, but he’s really Trent Reznor in a beret.
Geroyche Vs. Wintermute
A split EP that marks the 3rd installment on 12inch on kool.POP with Geroyche winning the soundclash: distorted breaks collide with dark atmospheres, opening in a slow paced menacing manner. While the second track is overshadowed by a slightly ponderous bassline, the third rocks the house with energetic percussion and manic pace.
Wintermute is (as the name suggests) a more introverted affair with sometimes surprisingly light tones for kool.POP, on the last track almost slipping into, erm, ambient territory, the monotonous second track with its more sinister atmosphere being my favorite on this side.
Pink One EP
Limited to 100 copies this pink vinyl 7” encompasses many moods and sounds. Noise loops, reflective atmospheres, abstract breaks, raising bass pulses, certainly more than you’d expect from a little record. Due to the limited quantities chances would be slim now to find this, but watch out for future releases.
Funked up breaks and vocals change rapidly in a style that has just been waiting for this step forward.
One track of normal Crystal 4-beat but 3 tracks that will definitely rock for some time. I await more with eager anticipation. A record for the mashup junkies and ravers alike.
After their near-legendary forrays into “laboratory resaerch and street violence” on 7″ and 12″ (The Massacre) they return with two tracks on 10″ after a hiatus of several years, which always includes a danger of disappointment, and I can’t help drawing the parallel to Lory D.’s Friski – a good record, but not as monumental as our expectations. Two relatively clean, broken beat tracks produced on the Amiga, nevertheless a welcome return.
– Uncivilised World 5
– Survival EP – Six Shooter 3 – The World Unseen EP – Six Shooter 5
Three of the most recent Somatic releases providing twenty new tracks between them. Continuing in a kind of industrial electro vein with twisted up, mostly distorted sounds, atmosphere and chewed up, heavy broken beats. Incorporating tech-step elements within a couple of tracks on both the Six Shooter EP’s. They seem to have almost completely moved away from 4/4 territory with only one track on each of the Six Shooter EP’s showing 4/4 signs. A couple of the tracks could be better on ‘The World Unseen’, but on the whole both the Six Shooter EP’s are pretty cool. The Uncivilised World record slows the pace down on three of the four tracks and shows a slightly lighter side to the sounds in places. The beats remain heavy and broken and are given more power and space due to the pitch down. The short fourth track increases intensity, with double speed kicks breaking down to a screaming synth line.
Cyanide – Confine –
Uncivilised World 6
The Joker – Poison EP –
Six Shooter 4
Two releases from a new artist coming with an interesting approach and a broken up style.
The Six Shooter record is the harsher of the two, creating heavy broken beats with intricately programmed fairly industrial sounds, reminiscent of old Aphex Twin in places but faster and bringing jungle breaks into the mix. The atmosphere on these tracks is also mainly dark and heavy. The UW tracks are not quite as intense but still dark in places. There’s also a kind of mournful feel to a couple here. Both these labels seem to be putting out some of the most interesting material at the moment, well worth checking out, for the more broken up beats.
Aphex Twin: Come to Daddy
(Warp 94, + Video)
This release sees a continuation of this man’s superior machine control. The record is typically Aphex – twisted with the main track mixing up hard breaks and abrasive sounds. The other tracks include bouncing ping pong ball breakbeats and samples to please all techno-loving pedophiles. As usual Mr.Twin combines experimentalism, depth and hard beats, which sound great in warehouse and bedroom alike.
The video has 3 track films, the most notable being Come to Daddy featuring daily life on a Hackney housing estate through the eyes of Richard D.James. Did he write techno on the wall? Who knows?
I Hate Flesh – New Skin 2
mwarf – sex with a machine – Ambush 5
The London breakbeat/broken beat intensification conspiracy strengthens, with these two fine releases. Showcasing mutations in progress. The New Skin record gives us 5 trax of roughed up beats, noise and audio oddities welded into mad rhythms and structures, very cool. Then the same artist breaks it down with some more jungle-core orientated tracks and further broken beat work-outs for Ambush, distorting breaks overdriving bass and rearranging structures. Check.
Void EP – VOID
Second release from the Void: ‘Bodyhammer’, broken stepping beats gradually constructing around eerie electronics – then pausing, before a thick bass wave pervades, we like this. The flipside and ‘Kaleidoscopic’ becomes more abstract and in a way too loose, but ‘Brainstorm’ is a fine dark industrial electro cut with plenty of sub.
Elastic Horizons – Percussive Quantology – Amputate 03
After the excellent, more distorted second release, comes this with a more kind of jump up drum and bass flavour. Three tracks of hardstep beats and pressure bass, most intense on side A with ‘lemon roll’ – devastating bass avalanches and rolling beats. Check.
Hate Cats E.P.
It’s all here: music for when the millennium bug kicks in. When the the lid is lifted it is hard to replace, Pandora: synth lines seduce, machine rhythms bite. Kafka’s penal colony machine takes a holiday in in your head. Apart from the splintering beats there is a whole “symphony” underlying the structure a core of sound sculpting, a sound track in itself, this is particularly evident in tracks “Last is First” & “Caught Up” the beats are subsumed and become the willing slaves of the vast edifice that stalks and insinuates itself into the nervous system. Excellent, only complaint it should be a 74 minute piece, we have a compression of some awesome things to come……
Scud + Nomex – Total Destruction – Maschinenbau 02
Noisy 7” hybrid featuring two mixes of dancehall chants, aggressive jungle snares and searing noise replacing the absent sub-bass, kind of reminiscent of some of the ‘93 ragga jungle but too shot through with noise and roughness to really be compared. Jump-up, noisecore?
Fraughman – Reinforced cut-off wheel – Bloody Fist
Excellent surprise breakbeat/speedcore/grind-up featuring, at times, high speed action over overdriven distorted, sometimes half-speed, generally vari-tempo splintered breaks and amiga noise. Snippets of vocals and urban suggestions combine with a disregard for structure and style. A debut from a new artist for BF accelerating the labels previous hints, with the recent Memetic record, toward a more noisy broken situation and hopefully away from the less interesting Gabber influenced trax. Recommended break-down style.
Die Dresdner StadtmusiKUNTen
(Suburban Trash 980512001)
Opening with cryptic bassdrums pacing along to a classical piece obviously describing the suburban life of Dresden, inclusive of occasional feedback noise. The Noize Creator is back after the release on SSS with some examples of deranged trash.
On the b-side he returns to slightly more tekno oriented material, but still filtered and fucked with.
DJ Freak & Noize Creator
Early SS-lookalike 12” by 2 prolific distortion-merchants which proves a successful collision of minds, on one side manifesting itself as two fierce broken beat tracks, on the other as a longer hardcore track, preceded by a beatless distorted intro using voices, interrupted by sheer noise, stopping and starting, always resuming the 4/4, never not-distorted.
Both Freak and Noize Creator (check the Suburban Sabotage series) both have recently embarked on exploring more broken up territories, a welcome development.CF
(Six Shooter 6)
Lasse Steen in one of his rare non-4/4 moods overdrives and distorts the beats and synths to achieve a wall-of-noise effect from the same machines he usually whips those doom-techno tracks out of. Sometimes this causes a lack of definition and dynamics, where distortion becomes a shadow. B1 is best with its massive slow paced bass drum creating a dark and cool groove.
Prone One(Test press)
A joint venture from the minds(?) behind Amputate and Urban Disturbance resulting in filthy diseased noise.Two tracks,one which could be called electro and one which can’t really be described.Both do equal amounts of damage on both mind,body and soundsystem.If you see this record coming down your street then cross the road and hide.
Four tracks of Amputee chique ranging from Amiga breakgrunge to Amiga kickgrunge.Fat distorted bass and blatant noise cut ups thunder out over grainy percussion in the familiar Skoptic style.Wicked.
Hecate Jacks off the Jackal(Zhark)
This single sided two tracker (with cool lazer etching on the flipside) presents a joint project from The Jackal(Praxis) and R.Kozak(Zhark).Both tracks operate in industrial broken beat mode yet retain strong coherent structure as mixable tracks.Breaks are clearly defined and structured projecting the desired intensity without tripping over themselves in distortion.A cold calculated release with no excess baggage.
Virtus doublepack-Seal Phuric(Reload ltd)
SPOOKY-this spinechilling 4 track double resembles a bad nights sleep whilst acting acting the lead role in a silent horror movie.Excellent sample usage brings Angel Heart into a new dimension of brain tingling reverberated breakcore with a very churchy feel to spook away all the evil forces amongst us.In a class of its own and well worth checking out.10/10.
Lasse Steen-Six Shooter Six
L.Steen in his Senical guise for yet another six tracker.As you would expect this release grinds along with the usual headmashed distorted riffs grafted onto rough percussion.Senicals style is gradually broadening out into more experimental terrain and the sheer amount of stuff he does results in some wicked tunes,but the fact that his sound is so distinct results in you having difficulties differentiating between releases.That said this ep contains some harsh noise and should be investigated upon identification.
(Six Shooter 7)
The Somatics are gaining strength with their best Six Shooter release yet. As already hinted at with their last release on the label (number 5, after they already did 1 and 3), their move towards their own version of distorted techstep growing out of and rejuvenating their very own brand of music that manages to be atmospheric and harsh, funky and abrasive at the same time. They seem to have left the brutal hardcore sound as well as the tough tekno of earlier releases behind for good, but also moved on from the sometimes ‘Roman’ sound of their later period, moulding it all into a matured complex reasserting their position amongst the most powerful producers from the UK.
Yann Dub / Aphasia
Yann Dub of Reverse Records gives 4 wicked energy blasts on its side of this disc. Track 1 being more of an intro but a useful noise anyway. Track 2 is a well produced and slightly disturbing hardcore number with a good chopped kick and sinister robotic laughs and screams. Track 3 is the one: chicken squawks lead to machine gun kicks and firing samples all triggering insanely off each other, if played at the right time, this tune will destroy minds. Track 4 ; an industrial punk thrash blast with someone shouting about Cyanide.
Side B is by Aphasia (no relation to Aphasic) and it is shite.
Remixes of Subtrax by Bass Master Landstrumm,who is churning out some pretty awesome stuff of his own at the moment.This two tracker comprises of one blinding bass kick attack(think of a super funky Lost 9) which totally overshadows the boring B side with twisted edits and fx flying all over the place.
2CB5-Birds Bikes & Techno
The fifth and sixth installments of Subheads sub series continue 2CBs voyage into sonic abstract technique.Falling midway between electro,techno and minimal industria,2CB employ the odd ironic muzak hook but the atmosphere invoked is most surrealistic than cheesy.Fucked up and funky these tracks are important building blocks in the reconstruction of British techno.
Starts with a noise intro composed of feedback and voice and mutates into a well produced slow techno track, that eventually – suddenly – doubles its speed! The same thing happens on the other side, but this time unfortunately only for a few seconds, while the final track is a surprising assault using a repetitive broken beat (if I may use such a paradox description). Not extreme enough to deserve the sample “I’m afraid of pain” it’s still pretty good and one of the more inventive records to come out of the french hard techno scene.
The Mover: Countdown Trax [Narcotic Network 03]
Third release from this, so-far, consistent PCP sub-label sees the Mover bringing that spacious, beautifully overbearing PCP sound into collision with a more primitive electro beat-box sound. What seems to happen on this 4 tracker is that the usual production values seem to drop a notch or two only to push back to the peak of what a smaller studio is capable of. This gives the tracks a kind of Mover meets Electronome feel and guarantees a less showy sound that in turn allows the Mover not to overawe his listeners (and himself) with a too overbearing ‘multiplex’ type spectacle that marred the last Mescalinum release. On Countdown Trax the Mover seems, instead, to concentrate on simple, pushed rhythms and structures whilst letting a less-clean bluriness wreak its timbral havoc: tones mesh, bass blurrs into kick. As with Electronome and RA-X, it seems on this EP that The Mover brings us a more improvised and ‘live’ effect and it is perhaps this feel that reflects the previous, much neglected, ‘Countdown’ series.
Mover – Countdown Trax – Narcotic Network
Sounds old and probably is, but PCP show they still have the odd few half decent trax knocking about and showcase their best release for a while, but then there hasn’t been much competition of late with most of their recent material being fairly ordinary and in a way because of that maybe we view this as better than we would normally. The trax do sound a bit like mover offcuts, surplus material that didn’t make it onto previous releases, with the impression in places that they were thrown together in a hurry. However having said that they do carry that distinctive mover sound, with the trademark warped bass and due to the extensive 606 use(employed on all four trax), retain a pleasingly rough edge.
Symphonies of Steel
Great expectations for any new Mescalinum release – of course.
Lime coloured fluorescent vinyl – not bad.
One sided? Initial moments are promising but the one track turns out to be not that much more than a loop that goes gradually faster, comes to a standstill, just to accelerate once more. With Doom™ -elements, Mescalinum-typical harder and more “industrial” than other PCP-projects. Unfortunately the sound is a bit muffled (could be fluo vinyl gagging for UV light), and while I can see it working in the right context, it comes nowhere near pt.1, or Lightbringer, or other classics, and if you’re not a collector, it might be wise to wait for the Mescalinum album scheduled for release some time before 2017.
Marshall Masters-World Evacuator(Arcadipane)
Just when you thought it was all over P.C.P. is reborn via Midtown/Warners(who also published the best of… c.d. last year).The first offering presents two full tracks and some cool locked grooves.Operating very much in Cold Rush territory with anvil dropping on your head kickdrums and fat hoover synths.Basically you know the score,buy it.
Last Tomorrow 1&2
Direct from the dark basements and cavernous warehouse haunts of Londons rave underground Crossbones Sound System present the first vinyl evidence of their mission. The seven tracks over two EP’s show a bleak vision of the future and offer the possibility of escape and evasion through the underground. From slow epic darkness through retro/phuture hardcore to full on gabba the intent is constant and flowing. When the last tomorrow comes, exit earth.
New 4 tracker from France, the EP is split with 2 trax from Armaguet Nad and 2 by Fist of Fury. The first two tracks are disappointing, I normally rate Nad’s stuff but this is a bit straight and thus uninspiring , guitar distortion samples just do my head in. Side B fares better in terms of energy and roughness with cool gunshot/siren/breakbeat cut ups at around 220 BPM on the first track. The 12” finished with a doomy phased out kickdrum number that certainly comes the closest of the four to creating the sounds you would expect from the Slaves of the Devil.
Death metal riffs, straight banging hardcore, speedcore and one track with a breakbeat edge (into which a straight bassdrum comes in way too loud half way through, making any DJ look like a fool), plus 2 shorter noise pieces, defining ‘post-core’ as between metal and industrial, but situated in a scenery that is established and sticking more to the rules than Widerstand usually do, in fact the previous releases were more ‘post-core’ than this one.
Industry Is My House
(Industrial Strength, IS047)
Aptly titled this is typical Hô in its metallic and geometric sensibilities. Three tracks that start and stop but ultimately find their home within a big bad bassdrum surrounded with clanging, tsishing, grating – steam, glass, blades.
Label-boss Laurent Hô teams up with D.Tecould, aka DJ Radium (of Micropoint, Dead End and Psychic Genocide) so it’s a tete a tete of two prolific hardcore producers who helped a lot to shape a certain around 200 bpm French hardcore sound, and this record is predictably banging and must be played loud to discover the subtleties. Metallic “first mechanical hound” (as it says on the spine) and the occasional break-ups while the 4/4 bassdrum seems to hold it back in a thoroughly charted realm. It works; but it’s not as far ahead of the pack as some earlier releases.
Full Metal EP
A particularly harsh, brutal and soulless effort from one half of Micropoint, comparable to their best records (like Dead End 02 or the one side on Stormcore 5). Full of little edits, creating a digital shrill (clearly 16-bit) sound with depth. The four tracks almost destroy themselves in screaming and hammering, a hardcore machine caught in a cage of metal and concrete.
DJ Radium-Body Disorder (Epileptik)
Mr Radium obviously on holiday after the mental derangement which resulted in the deeply disturbed Epitheth 12.Even though these tracks are lighter in weight than most of his stuff there is still evidence of a twisted conciousness at work.Not totally cheese free but when compared to the current crop of Tieum/SpeedyQs featherweight shite,Radiums effort is positively rock hard.
Compared to his recent releases on Deadly Systems and the 12” co-written with Noize Creator, this is a step back. Four tracks of monochrome speedcore that fool themselves into believing they’re hard by being fast and 2 dimensional. Noisy, but not noisy enough they hang somewhere between his more extreme (& much cooler) earlier speedcore stuff for KillOut, and the more conventional hardcore on HOH.
A new label from the midwest that raises some hopes for North American hardcore, here a fusion of hard banging beats with breakcore and noise, the name of the label setting the agenda. 5 trax, incl. 1 good beatless noise piece. No information is included as to the reference to the Unabomber, instead my copy has “fuck off” smeared over the white label.
Fischkopf 25-Mathey Oliver
Nice,dark and grungy four tracker on Hamburgs finest,rolling Amiga-ga-ga kick loops underlining some deft sample/distortion developments.Relentless in direction but not unlistenably full-on ,tracks are reminiscent of early Napalm releases in their rough but dancefloor friendly approach.Blatantly cool party trax.Acquire.
Blue vinyl 4 tracker containing 3 speedcore blasts and 1 wicked 170bpm piece.Cut up beats and lashings of distortion and various powertool interactions fight for space within each track,creating the best Napalm since number 6.No guitars or unnecessary silliness just caustic hallucinatory hardcore.Absolutely wicked.
Cleanly produced mid tempo 4 tracker which presents Aphasia’s most promising stuff yet,certainly better than the split ep with Yann Dub last year.Dark broken(ish) techno with a doomy edge that neither falls into the pit of spiral monotony or kick drum oblivion.All trax are playable and well cut and though not earth shatteringly original this is definitely worth checking
Komm Süsser Tod
From Tokyo, Suzuki is responsible for the Burning Lazy Persons releases on Fischkopf, Cynical Muscle Revenger on Dead End as well as a full length CD on Blut-parent lable Otaku. On 6 tracks Naoto goes through post gabba mutations, my favorite being the aggro-breaks of Diracs Ocean, generally abstaining from the hilarious speedcore antics of his Burning Lazy Persons project, and sometimes rave-tinged, sometimes with metal guitars. Solid but hardly innovative, one wonders what the title “Come Sweet Death” refers to…
Fraktal – Paris/Londres
Forgettable Paris side, consisting of two fairly non-descript hardcore tracks. The Londres side however shows a more interesting direction cutting in more interesting sounds and injecting elements of breaks developing a more broken style with a low frequency agenda, whilst still remaining in a hardcore vein.
Fine hardcore in an intense no-mercy style from Stella Michelson, on the first release from this Fraktal sublabel, featuring one incredibly brutal track. Fast unnerving and intensified by the quality of pressing, which hampered most of both the michelson sisters previous trax. Three other tracks continue with a slightly less furious, but still relentless and high speed, approach cutting vocal snatches and other caustic sounds into the mix.
(Hangars Liquides 003)
Release number 3 on one of the best labels of 98 comes from La Peste who does his generally strange thing over 4 trax. Effectively exploring half/full (150/300 BPM) speed terrain with tracks ranging from sample cut ups over low impact kicks to extended bass drum/kick percussion experiments. The feel of the EP is restrained and submerged, there are no hardcore slammers relying on formulaic structures, just screwed up industrial of the highest order. Whether useful as a tool for DJ’s to bring some variety and context to a future noise set or a s stand alone tracks, La Peste has reinforced H.L.’s position as a source of no compromise music.
(Hangars Liquides 07)
Ronan Le Roux, already responsible for the first H.L. release does it again for the label with his arguably fattest release so far (releases that include Fischkopf 24 and one side of Blut 1). 4 mechanical and pounding amiga workouts, 3 of which adhering to a strict 4/4, one going more free style in a hectic broken beat mode.
“Un Arbre en Lévitation”
(Hangars Liquides 08)
One long track on each side, this leans heavily towards industrial noise and loops. On Kinestesie the beats fall away completely – and more explorations of noise can only be welcomed, but have to keep in mind that a lot has been done in this field in the last 20 years (considerably more than in say ‘speedcore’). Antinomie uses strict beats, but in an almost abstract way; a live jam? Becoming increasingly faster and more relentless. Also includes a lyric sheet and a small piece of original artwork.
Brulé vif EP
The second release on BMTR opens with a track from Cytochrome C (HL08) with violin and hammering beats. Perplex Barquettes come closest to burning you alive with a pretty infernal track with pleasing delirious qualities. Taciturnex opens the flip side with a noise track, UHT adds a dark midtempo piece and Sh’tank speed up the beats again (considerably). Good compilation with exclusive tracks, nearly all artists having new releases out around the same time.
The Mechanical Propaganda Device
(Bloody Fist 13)
After Bloody Fist added a new dimension to their arsenal with Memetic’s Some More Fukt Muzak, this is a fairly eclectic release encompassing techno, breakbeat and speedcore but still holds together due to the coherent choice of sounds. Rough and ready, in particular the raw speedcore of Polis and the breakcore of Barbara (with ‘I’ll make them pay’ sample) should make you pay for this record.
Once you figured out which side is which (it matters because one is cut on 45 and one on 33) the collaborative effort on 3 tracks titled Rencontre d’un autre type includes John Entox (Skreem), Soulaterre, A2Tek and others besides No-Tek, is an elongated jam session that is noisy and broken up, and doesn’t fail to please, without reaching the quality of No-Tek 5 or 6 (7, in case you were wondering was a live tape, 8 and 9 are CD-R’s).
The other side (Monofonic Test) documents the murder of a 303 (“Crime pacifiste en 3 actes) by using samples of the dreaded machine for all the sounds (essentially creating a techno track). The final track is a heavy metal workout with Sabbath-esque tuned-down guitars. Faced with the choice of a TB and metal guitars, I choose to turn turn the record over…
(Explore Toi 020)
“Real time live method, no sequence programmed”, it says on the label, and that seems to be the credo of the recent Explore Toi releases; unfortunately this manifests itself in drawn out impro sessions. The attempt to counteract the rigidity of sequenced production gets lost in the emphasis on process over production. What’s left doesn’t prove anything except that it’s possible to create improvised music with drummachines, synths and samplers as well as with guitars and drums etc. I still prefer this over most French spiral soundalikes (which E.T. of course aren’t, creating a harder and faster sound), but sorely lacks the rigor and fierceness of Hangars Liquides, No Tek and others, but if you need to be reminded why writing tracks on sequencers is a good idea…
Ken Ardley Playboys:
We’ve Got Ken
[Lucky Garage Records CD]
Coming over like a cross between The Fall and Half Man Half Biscuit, the Playboys, refugees from a London art scene of quick shags, blank looks and other forms of self-promotion, here blend surreal, scurrilous humour, irony and pastiche on a CD that surely merits the promotional blurb: “rock graveyard”. As Mark E. Smith once said, “let’s get this together and make it bad” and what then happens is that you can make music on your own terms where the flaws and the accidents help in the making of an autonomous atmosphere. With a straining version of Kraftwerk’s The Model and with such tracks as Popstars, Eni Fing Two Be Faymus a#nd Van Monologue we have jokes that wear so thin you can see through to other jokes beneath them. Watch out for Ken Ardley Plays Detroit Classics….
V/VM: Chart Runners
There seems to be no stopping V/Vm in their flight away from dance beats and their latest release sees them plundering record graveyards and resurrecting the ever-present spirit of the classical avant-garde. However, Chart Runners is no vinyl-conservatoire and what V/VM add to their corrosive collages, mood surges and laminated kitsch is a restlessness and a punky sardonicism. Their desire to break things up and confront expectation is perhaps best seen on their electro track whose beat can’t seem to sit still as it is continually threatened by being whipped into disintegratio#n by slashes of warping static. If, for some, the ‘sick’ humour of re-rendering the Birdy Song and allowing the Hovis Theme to emerge from beneath strata of hiss is a little too much, then take heart from the final track on this LP where Mantovani-style easy listening strings are made uncannily haunting by surface clicks and labyrinthine reverb.
Terre Thaemelitz & Jane Dowe:
Not so much a collection of tracks as an ‘audio project’ that works best when bits of muzak are estranged by frequency clicks and studio filters that make them whistle and hum. Another high point of defamiliarization is No.07 when spacious piano notes are distorted and made to sound like a weird hybrid of the natural and the dig#ital. If the Means From An End CD was exciting in its meticulous irreverence and through the way Terre Thaemelitz contextualised his/her work in a political way then there’s a suspicion that this CD, with its theme of academic collaboration, is too tempered by its potential reception as ‘art music’.
Of recent Mille Plateaux releases this is closest in spirit to the Arno Peters CD of last year in that montaged shards from all fields (classical, folk, acoustic, industrial, noise processing, operatic) are brought together into incohesive wholes.Whereas Arno Peter’s structured his sound-collages with a commentary upon global communications here the 22 year old Kouhei threads his eclectic tracks with simple beat structures that work like a spinal column in holding the dense and varied aural spirochets together. Previously recording as Mou for Electric Ladyland, the vaguely ‘illbient’ ‘I cannot feel you because…’ is the most immediately recognisable track a#nd, as with a lot of Mille Plateaux stuff, the strangeness of the syntax and track structure makes the music sound difficult when it’s often more a matter of the overfamiliarity of some genres which act upon us negatively as something we’re too used to ( i.e neo-electro’s potential failing?). Kouhei’s Upside Down CD is commendable for its detail, density and the way it seems to extend itself everywhere at once. Yet whilst it illicits a patient response from the listener, sometimes it’s restless meanderings can come across as over-entangled rather than energising (the 17 minute track Seat seems a point in case). Two Foot & Two Hand and Natsuyumesou reward patience. Flint Michigan
Re-wind to Warp’s Artificial Intelligence series and then fast forward and there’s a case that these four tracks could be classed in the ‘intelligence’ camp. There’s an Autechre type vibe audible here, where it often seems that there’s more of a machine rather than a prosthetic thing going on. This feeling might be inspired by the fact that most of these 4 tracks stick to a song type structure which does have the effect of making them more harmonic than they otherwise should be. There’s plenty of rhythmic detail and some interesting noise/sample/digital filter noises at play, but maybe these should have been brought more to the fore rather than their being emplaced in too much melody? Autechre often escape this by having a more instinctive feel for the funk and it’s perhaps such an absence of drive that makes this Funkstörung EP kind of hover around you without delivering anything particularly enticing.
Advanz v Gescom:
Viral & Foehn: Shrouded
[Fat Cat 009]
A split 12 from Fat Cat, this release marks the arrival of Zone 3 and Zone 4 of an ongoing series. Zone 3 sees Gescom link up with the Skam Records DJ to sculpt a track that works as a retroprojection of the Detroit sound (more particularly for me, that of the Carl Craig track At Les). Allegedly made up from Buck Rodgers samples what we have here is a phat bass kick that accents the backswing and whose seeming simplicity belies its propulsion effect: a beat wi#th less accent and a beat early. Busy percussion fills in around a vocal stab as the track slowly builds up to the introduction of the string whose slowness, dragging over the beat, can only but heighten the beat. Instead of repeating this ad infinitum Viral lets the first chord of the string hover in a suspension of tension before leting it play out. It may sound simple and, as with early Detroit, it’s perhaps just this aspect of the track, not being overly clever and dry, not attempting to too sophisticatedly overcrowd the track that makes one listening of Viral always move on into two or three listenings. In contrast (and it’s quite a contrast… such is the enticement of this split-series) we have two tracks from Foehn. These are gritty textures in Zoviet France territory. Wind tunnels that carry timbre clashes in their slipstream and that wash through you like waves that carry different bits of aural detritus: a guitar note here, a violin there, a cello chord dropped deeper? An after-echo of noise. This kind of post-techno vector (ie Process etc) has resonance with improvised electronica such as AMM where signifiers are split from their signified in a way that encourages an unanchored receptive context.
[Fat Cat 21]
Post-techno soundscapes from Andy Barnes that tread a similar ground to Mike Ink’s Gas project and to the Chain Reaction/Basic Channel roster: processed layers shift and mingle in a kind of undertow of sound whilst the beat morphs into a dimly perceived pulse. Like the Axis minimalism of Jeff Mills and Robert Hood these are tracks that seem to insist upon the retroinjection of the traditions that have passed before. We almost recollect the adrenalin inducement of techno but any memory trace we have seems to spur us towards discovering beats in the swathes and clicks that rise and fall. What’s interesting about these 5 tracks is the way they laterally stretch the ethere#al qualities of ‘ambient’ towards a muddied musique-concrete; we don’t so much float away as move more intimately in.
Lonny & Melvin: If You Want A Job To Be Done, Do It Yourself [Craft 33]
The Hague’s I-F and Melvin White present a 5 tracker that contains two tracks from the rare Murder Capital 01 release: the classic overload of Suck the Box and the driven cinematics of Theme From Murder Capital. Bringing these two tracks back into circulation makes this an EP worth hunting down and especially so when you hear The Job, a lightweight melody coursing around percussion rushes, and then flip over to the motor stalk stealth of Geld. Coming with a gangster story as sleeve art makes this EP not so much a Resevoir D#ogs homage, but the ditching of rock kitsch makes room for the sinister minimals of early 70s crime flics like The Outfit and Point Blank. Long silences of detachment. Sadistic funk. Take a trip to Pametex car demoliton…
Electronome: Music Telex [Viewlexx]
Electronome’s third solo release in as many years sees him perhaps holding back from delivering something to rival No Landscape. With the possible exception of the lead track there is none of the heightened drum pattern and corsucatingly freeform electronic overload that his first single was much admired for. Music Telex is a much more laidback affair that may reflect Electronome’s moving into the centreground of current electro rewrites… leaving the manic terrain to RA-X? That said the revisionism on offer here may belie the producer’s need to slightly alter his approach.It may have been too easy just to repeat the techniques of the earlier singles and, instead, a concern with making tracks that are more subtle seems discernible. A personal favourite is A2 with its insistent vocoder message and rolling beats.
Le Car: Auto Motif [
Le Car are clean living boys with a taste for the early 80s synth-pop of Jon Foxx and there seems to be a race on in the electro scene for who can get closest to kitsch while still retaining some suss. After some of Drexciya’s classics, I-f’s Space Invaders track seem to reset this off and Le Car come close again, on this EP, with Erase That Thought: jaunty, simple and yet sinisterised by a vocoder intoning the brainwashing theme of the title. Le Car are always interesting to listen to and this may be because their tracks are so brittle and spacious and also because they never go for that overbearing spectacular effect that some ha#rder tracks yearn for. Yet again the Le Car tracks here are short and this has the advantage for them of reinforcing the computerised, production-line pastiche they seem to go for: endless, mass produced ‘pop’ made by robots. There’s no-one left in the factory…what’s a factory?
I-f: The Man From Pac
On this, his second LP, I-f strips back his current ‘disko slique’ formula to the bare essentials. This gives for a large reverbed sound to give the rhythm and bass-runs a prominence and then, rather than infill to his heart’s content, the tracks are given a thin layering of melody. I know for some this concentrate of spindley pop-disco is getting a little too much, but in I-f’s favour the popiness of some of these tracks do carry their own subversive elements: B1 is a little too fast, A2’s melody is as creepy as it is delib#erately sickly and B2’s refrain is too reflective. But whatever can be said against this collection of tracks one thing that I-f has always been able to do is programme a bass line and, just as importantly, give it body. This LP is no exception and his basslines, especially as they offset cymbol and hit-hat interaction, seem to draw on varied memories of synth-pop, disco, house and techno whilst being placed in a neo-electro context. The sparseness of the melody then, comes to leave this underpinning unencumbered by the specific accent of any of these genres.
White Heat (DHR)
Noise is the great equalizer. There are those who will say that the less steeped in any sort of musical contamination or
technique, the harder and purer the noise. The category “noise” shifts from person to person, is perceived and conceived differently. Whatever its definition, noise essentially lacks
pattern. There’s nothing for your brain to latch onto – it can be a liberating or a totally braindead experience. And therein lies the rub….Noise can either bring you onto another psychic plane or leave you bored as fuck and wanting more. White Heat leaves me wanting more. On DHR, but not “digital
hardcore” per say, the record fails to shock or challenge DHR’s own aesthetic or push the boundaries of a genre or the label itself. And to me that is the essence of noise, to challenge modes of listening to records, to challenge the technology of making records and to dismantle the sonic workings of the technology which plays the music – to challenge the very conception of accepted listening and “music”. White Heat ails to deliver any kind of challenge. It doesn’t fuck with me or make me want to fuck things up.
Noise can be quite conceptual or perhaps it is just plain bone- headed fun at driving your neighbours nuts. Noise in general, especially white noise, is very difficult to submit to criticism.
But discomfort and the production of a physical and psychic reaction are key. White Heat is comfortable listening. The release is presented in traditional terms, as an album consisting of five separate, named, composed tracks. An identity appears in the work; a “self” is inserted and asserted. But the record does not speak to the listener of the type of technology Ms.Endo is working with/against. It has no conceptual base. White Heat seems to soley rely upon its nature as a white noise album as its subversive base. Yet conventions and traditions remain intact… harsh feedback alone is not enough….
I love noise that makes me uncomfortable or scared – the records that are impossible to listen to from start to finish or the type that give a rush of adrenalin that makes me want to smash my stereo; ears feel like they’re bleeding, I can hear through my stomach and feel through every orpheus of my body – pain becomes pleasure. White Heat could be construed as extreme, but it leaves
Carl Crack-Black Ark-DHR
Nic Endo-White Heat-DHR
This trilogy of new releases from Digital Hardcore Recordings confirms my belief that as soon as any label has the chance for massive distribution-they don’t have the tracks to release. All three lack severely in respect of production quality of both the pressings (i.e. Cobra Killers attempt at 15 tracks on one 12”) and the actual tracks themselves. Once a label fascinated by the massacre of beats and dedicated to distortion-DHR has softened up on the concept, message, and sound.
***All of these reviews are written after one quick flip thru each***
-Carl Cracks’s Black Ark seemed to have left the dock-without checking to see if he had the supplies for the journey in advance. The whole mess lasts for 70 min. and I have come to believe it would be much more RADICAL and DANGEROUS if DHR’s well-paid PR person marketed this as either a torture test and/or a painful initiation into a zombie cult…The material waivers between sloppily edited hip-hop loops, the occasional typical Berlin female voice, lots of undynamic distortion, and basically directionless wank that makes the worst of “illbient” seem prophetic.
-The newest member of ATR tries to get us hot with 2 big photos and a blast of her White Heat. The packaging is typical for a DHR release, which is why this really fails to deliver. This album consists of numerous tracks each with a title setting itself up to be received as a collection of finished tracks. There is no mention of concept behind this creation, no information on equipment used, and certainly no “tracks”. Better off if it was a 7”-White Heat is a 12” of uneventful noise. Which figures since in one interview (The Wire Dec.98) she expresses that the only way she came to do noise is because
“Alec said, let’s do noise.”
-The most entertaining of the three-Cobra Killers kick out 15 tracks most of which contain badly looped 60’s Garage samples, high pitched vocals, and the occasional beat. The trash quality of production at least works here better than the former two. The music lacks arrangement , therefore centering on awkward loops that somehow work. The only killer here though are the vocals which sound like they just picked up their first effects rack only seconds ago. They just don’t fit with one-dimensional trash quality of the background, panning all over the place and detracting instead of enhance the tracks. Unfortunately, it leaves me wondering where is the power?the terror?the mayhem of the old DHR? The Cobra Killers end up to be the humourous way out of a pressing situation…with the the label’s important debut release of their first girl band, Cobra Killers ends up lacking in too many areas to be funny.
Arovane: EP [Din]
Autechre craft meets Chain Reaction guile on this four track EP. Activated and extemporised chill with windtunnel backdrops and fragile harmonics that utilise a large acoustic range: the space of a collapsable auditorium. A track like Andar seems to be structured and doodled at the same time as faint scribbles of melody meet portable structures. Hook and Crux. The mood of these tracks comes across as they move towards the fade: they perpetually end whilst lingering delicately… a vague poetics of sound with enough percussion punches to lend them a discomfiture… Apres l’explosion. Flint Michigan
Spectre: The Second Coming [Wordsound]
Beginning with Christopher Walken saying “do you wanna go someplace dark” this CD doesn’t deliver on its opening promise until we hit track 5:Purple Dusk. Prior to this the mood has been made flippant by the slowed down ‘deep devil’ voice of the Ill Saint as he pays homage to another variant of the ‘God’ that hip-hop likes to be joyously subservient to (in this case its the ‘mighty unseen force’ tinged with vague satanic mysticism). Purple Dusk is ‘someplace dark’ in that it is contemplatively moody: melancholic cello, slow almost bored beat and acoustic string quartet chord repeating and layered with spin backs and relayed timbres. This track means that some of the corny ‘horror’ samples are not our lasting memory of the CD and we begin to view the LP as a memorable 6 track EP with Pillars of Smoke, Crooked Knights, Stik n Move, Spawn and the Spy Who Came in From the Cold.
Various: Psychogeographic 7’s [Diskono]
Two 7’s: one white, one blue. Low end manoeuvers that are currently operating with a maximum of exposure and a minimum of compliance. Demand will outstrip supply as the wandering will lead to a site other than the one that merited the signposts and the psychical traffic will probably become more fluid simply because it is here prompted by jarred scratching, loop spins and a resuscitated melody. Context is useless. On Blue there is a radio show cut-up that defames the Olympics, a sinister beat-box ditty, a montage of variegated loops and then V/Vm take it to the bridge with a dark, grit-funk wipe out. On White there is post-classical, crepuscular piano which jars with the almost conservative, ‘recognisable’, techno of Boards of Canada followed by a short scratch melange, an easy listening groove underpinned by disincarnate voices and then the denouement of a tape/voice/hum track. Tune shards and buckled grooves. The incidental feel of most of these tracks, that they are excerpts from practices in process, gives rise, not only to intrigue, but to a sense of almost autobiographical intimacy. In a fascinating way this Diskono project is ‘post-media’ in that it is not only autonomous, anti-industry creativity that, being a compliation, is collective, it is also a project that has received acclaim before it was widely heard. That coverage occurred simultaneously to its release not only makes us witness to journalism eliding into mutual marketing it also makes Diskono last months news: an imaginary and untimely novelty. No more masterpieces.
Dean Roberts: All Cracked Media [Mille Plateaux]
Three long tracks of electroacoustic music where the accent is on process rather than on constructing a ‘track’. On Kompakt Arcade the sound sources of piano/guitar/percussion are sampled and treated like “modules” for a compositional process, an arrangement, that takes place in the studio. The generally repetitive and textured modules, which more often than not are concerned with getting an unfamiliar sound from the instruments (ie piano played by its strings, bowed cymbol), collide against each other and are subject to various panning, color enhancements and “cracks”. That the sounds used are mainly subtle and nuanced, not attack-centric, means that surprises come in the way that different and intentionally disconnected sounds come to resonate against each other and, importantly, how they are layered and shift position in the mix. This CD experiments with techniques and approaches that evoke those of UK improvising ensemble AMM (especially noticeable here on the Moving Chairs track) and as with these Cracked Media effects a more focussed listening experience rather than an ambient lethargy.
Various Artists: No8/ No.8.5/ No.9 [Fat Cat]
Various Artists: Remixes [Fat Cat]
If remixing suddenly seems like the new thing, if it gives-off, at best, a semblance of community, then at its worse, it privileges some original, somewhere else. With the first we know that the collaborants never meet but maybe meet detached elements of one another in the form of a DAT and communication precedes unconsciously: an interposed potlatch. With the latter the remix is exploitative. The lack of an ‘original’ becomes, for the industry, an ‘original’. An enticer-ruse to double their already doubled money. Not so Various Artists of the Chain Reaction label. The ‘original’ here is composed by a unit – a depopulated perceptive system – that is already various. Its community is audible. Track No.8, a title unencumbered by referent, by naming and nouns, disentangles prior expectation and allows itself the freedom to transform itself: an early, late and lingered refrain that pulls back and withholds from the temptation of denouement or progression but remixes itself as we hear it – desk mutation makes figure and background co-determining… repetition reveals itself as that which has made change perceptible and possible. Track No.9’s limited elements playback Track No.8 as minimal after all; yet its spaces are not encumbered enough by the timbre-shifts of No.8. Repeat Track No.8, cut it twice, but call it Track No.9? Make it, too, an emotive exemplar rather than a replayed origin?
How then to remix? Autechre take No.8 and fail miserably. But they fail to reproduce what they’ve already heard and knowing what must not be done their failure is to take the grit loops and marry them to an unflinching beat. They take No.8’s mood and use it into as a memory to underpin their remix and in the(ir) process they produce a track that seems to take-off from where Jeff Mills forgot to take the Cycle 30 EP. Funkstörung take No.9 and refuse to communicate with it. They don’t take it to the club. They don’t take it to the bridge. They take it to a place where they’re the only ones that matter. Pole, being a fellow labelmate of Various Artists takes No.9 and knows how to set this track right: timbre shifts and neo-reggae bass make the clear outlines of the ‘original’ translucent and hazy enough to disappear behind aural fog. Monolake, being a fellow labelmate of Various Artists, takes the shifting beatbox staggers of No.8.5, and make what was a short ricocheting rhythm track into something both incidental and portentous: surges that seem to be being sucked back towards an unidentifiable centre are recomposed around the slowly rising rhythm track that gives these surges a temporary location. All sources are simulations?