The record review section from Datacide Eight with reviews by Flint Michigan, Ian Trowell, Redmax, Jason Byram, Kovert, Eun and CF.
Various: Le Jazz Non [Smalltown Supersound 034]
Unpretentiously subtitled ‘a compilation of Norwegian Noise’ this collection of twelve tracks gives its listener the lowdown on some subterranean anti-musics being produced away from the funded networking centres. In many ways the ‘noise’ on offer here is not of the fringe psychotic, anti-communicational type – the ‘white out’ of monadic feedback – but is, on over half of the tracks featured here, a matter of using the noise elements as a means of overloading the brittle balance of an improvisational tension. This may be the reason behind the CDs title in that, by referencing jazz, there is a message sent out that the jazz referenced here is the jazz of timbre exploration, a jazz of changes where the fortuitous out-takes are taken on as the track. This lends the pieces by Jazzkammer, Del, Supersilent, Two Shot Sons, Arm, Der Brief et al a frission in that the use of ‘noise’, its often guaranteeing a sound/track’s confidence, is offset by the fragility of formlessness and a sparring between ‘noise’ and the less attack-centric instruments that are often employed here. Even on a track that takes the ‘white out’ approach, such as the CD’s opener by Lasse Marhaug, there is a use of pauses or varying noise textures that suggest some sense of structural undertow or rhythmic dimension to its assault. So, excepting one or two more conventional and touted tracks, the noise offered on Le Jazz Non is more a matter of arcades than walls; a noise as subtle as distortion, blurring and multi-noting can be.
Various: Nature Is Perverse [Fylkingen]
Maybe sometimes a festival should remain a festival and not become an excuse for an extension and outgrowth of ‘curatorial’ conceit. This selection of tracks, taken from the 1998 ‘Nature Is Perverse’ festival held at the Modern Museum in Stockholm, come across, with a few exceptions, as bearing all the hallmarks of the multi-funded and the multi-packaged. This is the worst end of the sonic arts boom wherein any live event must automatically become translated into a widely accessible consumer good in order to appease the funders by making it too clear that the event they coughed-up for is, potentially at least, of world-wide importance. Sadly, with the work of many producers and ‘sound artists’ barely being given the time of day, it is left to the quasi-bourgeois element – those comfortable with the moniker of ‘sound artist’ – to recreate the conservatoires of old with the constructa-kit modernity of the ‘electronic’. What we are left with is a collection of electro-jobbers who may have all studied at the same school of track construction: start slowly with pseudo silence and then build up the same repetitions without nuance and differentials until the very ostentatiousness of minute changes then force a ‘radical’ departure. Of course, it may be that the curatorial conceit has extended to control over the track edits or to an homogenised selection procedure but the only perverse thing here is to take some pleasure from the lectures this CD gives in institutional acceptability. There’s no struggle in these overlong and overlaboured sounds.
Andre Almuro: Depli [Elica MPO-3330]
“Words means little to the mind; expanded areas and objects speak out. New imagery speaks, even if composed in words. But spatial, thundering images replete with sound also speak, if we become versed in arranging a sufficient interjection of spatial areas furnished with silence and stillness.” – Antonin Artaud
Intertwined with French left-field culture since the end of WW2, Andre Almuro, a radio producer and Sorbonne lecturer, has collaborated with many avant-garde figures (Breton, Genet, Parmegiani etc) and worked across a variety of forms (radiophonic, film soundtrack, performance, electronic opera, composition etc). This CD release, then, constitues only a slither of his audio output and seems to provide a good cross section. The opener, ‘Le Troisieme Oeil’, is intended to accompany an experimental film on the body, and bears traces of a roughshod musique-concrete approach (Almuro was a one-time member of Schaeffer’s GRM). This piece seems to be made up from what sounds like a wind-blurred mic capturing those microscopic distortions caused by a moving body. Severed from any accompanying images the resultant sounds do not seem to be obeying any immediately recognisable ordering save for the incision of boosted movement and a rhythm of scraping, shuffling and coarsing which is gradually treated by increased amplification and minor electronic twists. ‘Terrae Incognitae’, a live recording of a tape/opera performance piece in the L’Eglise Notre-Dame de Caen, could summon up the work of Luigi Nono were it not for a kind of live improvised feel that Almuro achieves here with the acoustics of the church, the interruptions of the audience and the rambling acentricity of the timbral interactions of a-signifying vocal gestures with breathy electronic textures – maybe a Marxist like Nono would have something to say about the aura of primitivist ritualism that seems to surround this track? The final piece, ‘Boomerang’, is perhaps the most disturbing of a disconcerting collection. Intended to be the aural complement to a performance-scenography of “luminous fences… road cones… big standing mattresses and a whole tree hanging upside down”, this comparatively short electronic track carries a kind of post-apocalyptic darkness that is depthened by the intermittance of its gradient ‘sound folds’, its use of space to produce a haunting ‘depth-of-field’ and, not least, its grainy late-70s production values. Taken together then, these tracks, all of which were intended to illumine some notion of expanded theatricality, can be seen as aural adjuncts to Artaud’s ‘Theatre of Cruelty’. This latter, with its accent upon space and affectivity rather than staged sadism, and with its intention to bring together as many means of expression as possible, makes it possible for us later-listeners to bring to Almuro’s pieces not only a sense of the visual and gestural components that were intended to accompany them, but to get a sense of Almuro’s intentions to establish an empassioned and convulsive situation. That Artaud was questing for a “physical language no longer based on words, but on signs formed through combinations of object, silences, shouts and rhythms” is, especially on ‘Terrae Incognitae’, not so much a matter of primitivism as, after Artaud, a means of enabling us to “reassume a position between dreams and events”. How else, for now, to describe music?
Miles Davis: On The Corner
[Columbia/Legacy CD reissue]
Straight cut right into it. It’s already been moving before it began but we still have to wait for it. The moments of Miles like the wry smiles of a bum Monk note. Waiting through an alter-ego assemblage of thirteen at once. Spaxy. This is a big band Duke Ellington update with a near to kiltering improvisation. Funk is loose and tight, straight and curved, timed and atemporal. Funk as loose as this, as impromptu, just happens to be jaunting without measure. Rambling wait. Teetered fars. Cold sweat. Then after long, Miles’s lips, the lips of Miles, are permanently pursed. A silent blow blown. Lips pucker a stitter funk backed by bogged electrics and a straight James Brown rhythm lift – a bass through a Mu-tron, a sitar through a mic, two drummers, a wah-whack guitar. Straight cut right into it. No build up. No entry. No fake moodies. Just into the frunk fank as if in mid sentence to fink on the thinkless awaiting their avatars who, disappointed, rejected this as “nameless, faceless go-go music”. Tranche of funk. Wall of schiff. Scarcity of star. At fifty-one seconds the Moog signals the akimbo meaning of spassed out fonk on track five. Or. Somehow the double tracked wah-whail trumpet unstrains to sound stranger than the Moog. What melds is what’s not withheld without a fight. Makes it meet a multi-instrum’t moebius twist that somehow doesn’t overload the dial.Search in vain in this autokinesis for AABA forms. A cut-up fhonk built off a bass axile. June 1972.
Miles Davis: Get Up With It
[Columbia/Legacy CD Reissue]
No one cares at the time. The critics have festooned the guy with the garlands and avarice of their own meretricious taste. After Bitches Brew and Live Evil he’s already history. His voice cracks, his bones crack and the skag makes his trumpet into an organ (“… We can use that bit” he hacks). A thirty minute opener of static Pink Floydesque homaging to the Duke is solitary echoing guitar notes in interchange with organ spectra before Miles marks the16 minute-in mark with an autoicous solo before falling silent for another 10 minutes. What we want. Rated X is hindsighted as prescient drum and bass. It is/was for the first minute or so as the bassex lights a trill and the hi-wah-hat guitar scrates-up behind the jargged beat; then Miles takes to his organ and in-pounds it as if he were trying to sculpt its objectionable musicalness into an orgone trumpet that has a built-in phosphorescence switch (… later pics see a wired pouch attachment on the trumpet’s stem). Calypso Frelimo sets its opening imprint in the echoing trumpet that coils out its tune before Miles again takes to the organ only this time to make it refrain and hold the track every now and then so as it can out improvise itself as a never once bounded entity in something like three parts – funk guitars clash like Miles likes it as a minimized rock-out of cutter notes, a constant interchange that the flute tries to soften… but Miles’s trumpet sounds like played feedback as it desires to double its own refrain. Maiysha never quite holds to its slimey easy listening promise for long enough to be feted as wallpaper: again Miles makes the rhythmic punctuation a little too shrill and a little too disassociated until the ennui of the Latin rhythms makes the track fall apart to begin again in gyroscope. As Herbie Hancock had said: “We’d leave the studio scratching our heads, wondering, what was all that about?”. November 1973.
Deutsch Amerkanische Freundschaft ‘Produkt Der…’ Mute DAF0CD
Robert Görl ‘Final Metal Pralinees’ DiskoB 90
Pure ‘King Kong Part 2’ Praxis 26
The latter show two efforts that take different paths to achieve roughly the same effect: a departure from the ‘mainstream’ in terms of disregarding the maximisation of the quality, up-to-date-ness and optimalisation of equipment. Gorl needs no justiﬁcation for his music – even if it adheres closely to the tight and fanatical tradition of pure trackwork. His (recently revisited) DAF project conjured up a whole shift in musical standards – combining Deutsche new wave, underground club s&m imagery and a punk attitude in lyrics and drive to craft powerful stomp beats that were way ahead of their time and are only starting to be re-discovered on the back of electro-esque escape routes from techno (check particularly some of the ‘body-beat’ cloning on International Deejay Gigolos and anything in the ‘sagezahn’ tradition released on ForceInc). Before tackling his new stuff it is worth checking this rariﬁed reissue from Mute that documents an angry session of Gorl, the DAF prototypes, and others ideas from early German activists such as ‘Der Plan’. The sound charts a 1979 session recorded on a 2 track in the back of a pub, utilising early Korg technology and punk guitar chords. Needless to say it carries some threat and dread. Fast forwarding to the future and ‘Final Metal Pralinees’ sees Gorl put a loop seal on his musical life-project (we are told that he is to take up a life of Buddhism?) by digging out his analog Korg and stripping out clangs and wails to sync in with his unrelenting kick drum fetishism. The tracks reach out more to fans of this intense techno project – realised on his previous ‘Sexdrops’ album – rather than trying to appeal with isolated or showcased analog moments, but – going against the grain – its the few items in this latter category that are more exciting. ‘Las Vegas Cowboy’ sounds like an army of fruit machines out of control, while ‘Drum Putzen’ rescores Westworld to make it twice as scary… Pure’s track supports Autechre’s proposition that digital ﬁlters are the harshest, and – placed in the right hands – can create a sound outside of itself. ‘King Kong Part 2’ throttles in with the bits that were censored from Pure’s ‘End Of Vinyl’ project before running out a sometimes prefectly executed take on the Hagues acid sound blipped and glitched to the point of oblivion. That Bunker’s acid sound traded more on psychosis than sophistication doubles the effect of something that borders on the verge of being indescribeable – like the recently disinterred and waterlogged Blue Peter time capscule – you don’t know if to laugh or cry.
‘The Magic Sound Of Fenn O’Berg’ Mego 031
Mego’s recent releases have essentialised some of the more cogent and abrasive vectors in the elctronica/noise milieu, however they have always been concerned with diverting and subverting the now of technology. This in essence appears to be the master plan. ‘The Magic Sound of Fenn O’Berg’ provides a dual function under this plan – the sonics on offer will not disappoint those collectors of glitch, random noise and broken-tech, but the execution of the project re-invigorates (and subverts) a hidden tradition : the emergence of the live interface. The CD tracks out a document of live peformances in Tokyo, Berlin, Vienna, Paris and ‘some old raft ﬂoating in Hamburg harbour’, with the music leaning towards extreme dislocation and argument, apart from the ﬁnal (and breathtaking) track ‘Fenn O’Berg Theme’ (but more on that later). The dislocated nature of the individual pieces is the crux in understanding the emergence of this live interface – particularly the hegemony of the ‘Powerbook’ as the all encompassing cultural object. It’s portability and power is visualised in a similar way to Burroughs’ exterminator. Live performance suffered during the techno era, taking down with it the concepts of artists as ﬁgureheads, the stage as shrine, etc etc. The end of this was prophetically signalled by Throbbing Gristle when they announced at the start of their gigs that ‘everything you hear will be totally live’ only to use a tape loop of the same announcement as part of the ‘entertainment’ for the evening. Dance music gave us the rise of djs and a whole new set of cultural codes… but you know all of that. However, evolution necessitates change, and as a thirst for new directions in sound began to cement the disparate elements operating in the electronica scenes, the possibility of live transmission began to resurface with the emergence of the Powerbook. That is the now of the technology, however Mego don’t walk onto to stage to celebrate the diversity and dexterity of ﬂooding a room with polyrhythms. The Powerbook can mimic a certain randomness and glitch quality, but it essentially runs as a computer program and so necessitates a certain degree of sequencing and symphony. Get three going at once, powered by individuals so single minded and devious to subvert, then… well… you get this CD. How it will be taken is another matter. As Mego encourage self- activity, there will be those tri-secting the sounds and honing in on the individual efforts and effects (good luck!), with the overall feel of the piece secondary to both these individual streams and the mathematical implications of A melding with B or B melding with AC (etc). Certainly the totality of each track isn’t easily digested, so the subversion of a new cultural tendency is successfully executed. Just look at the crude and bastardised cover image to check where the artists are ‘coming from’. However, that last track, where they all look each other in the eye, and ‘jam’ like proper rock stars, works with such beauty as to suggest that hybridization can be synchronised and symphonised to a greater effect.
Process ‘Shape-Space’ FatCat CD9
Pan American ‘360 Business / 360 Bypass’
Both of these releases occupy a transitional ground, though not by the design suggested in the promotional material, more by default as they try to buttress the rapidly ﬁlling ground around new school minimalism and post-rock. Process is the work of Brighton born Cologne resident Steve Barnes and his previous releases have suggested a drift of attraction towards the Berlin school of post- techno. In recent times a second front of minimalism has forged through, rooted more in a cold mathematical dissection of techno and house standards, that – on the surface – seems to allign itself with the Berlin / Chain Reaction sound. Process proves there is a vast critical distance between these two strands of post-techno, simply through the fact that he occupies a nether ground in between. Barnes’ work emerges from a Kurzweil software system, though whether it is this that stiﬂes the ability to articulate warmth is a tough call. Certainly the aesthetic gestures towards Chain Reaction are rendered opaque as Barnes’ dubbiness never breaks free from the the strange mechanical restraints that either his software or his personal preferences impose. Sounds don’t drift or evolve as we think they would – they enter in a ﬁnished format and leave abruptly and politely without depositing any aural clues of their presence. This clinical and mechanical mode of operation and sound selection would suggest more of an alignment with the rapidly evolving second front minimalism – but something doesn’t ﬁt here. Though Process make the 4/4 contours more visible than say – Erosion or Monolake – the tracks suggest that Barnes wishes to develop a richness rather than a highly deconstructed numerical sound sequence. Whether this can be acheived without cloning the double helix of dub / ambient bred by Chain Reaction will fall on the shoulders of producers like Barnes, though elesewhere producers like snd have suggested a new form of versatility is available for those willing to take the risk. And so by accident rather than design ‘Shape- Space’ claims a piece of our interest, an uncomfortable lliason point that is still waiting to be accessed, an elevated marker pole on a barren plateau waiting for the ﬁrst snow of winter to fall.
Pan American’s seductive and ambiguously titled ‘360 Business / 360 Bypass’ is the nearest attempt yet for post-rock to shake off its accumulated baggage encapsulated in the genre name. Though Mark Nelson (Pan American soloist) doesn’t claim any rights or responsibility on this genre, his work with Labradford has placed him in this unfortunate genre, and with this all its connotations of auteurship and orating. An integral part of rock music was about demanding an audience to listen to a particular story, the music often providing the emotional scene changes to pump up the orator’s ego. Whilst it would be wrong to generalise on this point, much of the pre-post-rock developed by the likes of Sonic Youth, Pavement, etc relied upon a similar structure whereby ‘we play – you listen (then go home)’. Even at the height of its shambling nonsense rock was still claiming heritage to telling the story, even if that story was that we have no story – ie come and take awe and pity on our emotional bankruptcy. Post-rock struggled to emerge from variations of the strangulated low-ﬁ regime of drones, mutilations and hyper-extended chords, taking with it rock’s sorry strategy of assuming such auteur / listener roles. Nelson’s move towards ‘groove based’ trackwork takes him stylistically close (again) to Chain Reaction, an inevitable consequence of his background and carressing of dubbed string sounds and squashed bass. And even at times he relinquishes the leftovers of rock by plugging into the dynamics of 4/4 and electronica – here music operates as a stimulus for some other (interpretation of) environment, maybe a trigger or greyed blueprint to something else. Nelson’s heavy involvement with psychogeography, particularly his orchestration of the critically lauded Festivals of Drifting, might suggest further departures from rock’s storytelling origons, a move towards a more ﬂuid system of prompts, faded half suggestions or recollections recalled for the purpose of stimulation rather than awe. But just as the SI’s detourned maps became gallery exhibits, Nelson fails to escape intact from rock’s recuperation and bad habits: put simply, we don’t need lyrics about failing to ﬁnd our way home in the snow – lost loves or lost maps, there’s little difference.
Alden Tyrell ‘Love Explosion’ Viewlexx V12/6 Duracel ‘U Turn’ Viewlexx V12/7
The Hague sound was better deﬁned through its uncompromising attitude rather than any generic speciﬁcs, however, being uncompromising musically is no longer an easy option. Their isolated crack-den-prowler-alarm electro sound soon got swamped by the mainstream wholesale re-evaluation of electro. Aquick switch to synthpop to shake off the tails of the pursuants proved an inexecutable escape clause. The focus of attention followed the handclaps and the media circus got more excited… for a while it seemed all those messed up missives, random photographs and snapping beats had been in vain. Zine writers who had followed the thread of underground punk electronics were left feeling cheated, the mocking hand of avant- electronica and glitch-fetishism offering a barely satisifying synthetic solace. But the Bunker sound re-asserted itself,clawing out an electro that forces together industrial atmospheres and lost pop chords that had been misled back to the wrong ﬂock by an evil shepherd about to spend time in front of the Hague’s war crimes commision for torturing young children. Bunker 3000 and 3001 stalked you as an invisible operative – producers and collaborations using random and collapsable names to defragment any possibility of providing the rule cards for a scene or a sound. A further offshot for disgruntled fractured electronica emerged with the D- Jax Up Bitch imprint… Meanwhile Ferenc’s Viewlexx label restated an intention to force out the darkside of minimal synth pop, overlaying laconic clap beats with parallel melodics of trawled low keys and alienated bleep sequences. Inﬂuences are drawn from the Italian synth-disco sound – particularly on Alden Tyrell’s track – a forgotten genre that played a major part in forging the Detroit techno sound (the Viewlexx scouting party went on in front to check for major-scene ambush potential, returning only to report a gurning interest in Miami Bass where the bass is pumped, the lyrics have shock appeal, and the beats are tempo-ed for the soon-to- be-ailing speed garage scene). Viewlexx emerged from the bushes to reclaim the vocoded vocal, sidestepping any alliance to the excited garbage being peddled by artists based around catch-up labels like NovaMute. It’s more about facilitating an utterance… Duracel doesn’t want to sing to you or show off his new toy (or his new fascination with an old toy), Duracel narrates from the background ashamed and in need of disguise, its just something that needs to be said (a reference point, if one were needed, would be ACR with their opaque feel on ‘Knife Slits Water’ or the disinterested, languid, lounge funk on the ‘I’d Like to See You Again’ album). And ﬁnally Electronome emerges after his brief ﬂirtation with fame. It obviously brought him out in a rash because his new sound ditches the party feel that began in isolated instances on his ﬁrst two eps. Instead he re-engages the minimalistic sounds of ‘Een Drumcomputer en een Synthesizer’ and follows with 3 other machinistic and nervously prophetic cuts. A suicide cult basing its teachings on the Human League and Terry Nation…
Novamen ep Bunker 3009
Cocadisko is a mystery 12 that unashamedly throws out holiday funk in a tacky 80’s Spanish beer resort style rather than any of the slick Ibiza power brands. Strictly hands in the air and molesting dance movements as the main track features 80s elements rinsed through with an intro/outro panning sequence from Miami Vice (Crockett’s Theme from the never to be screened ‘coming out’ episode). The ﬂip narrates a French Connection style enforced drug bonanza with Don Johnson giving way to dark chemical forces as the hyperdermics penetrate his skin time and time again until time loses all referentiality (the mobile remains tantalisingly out of reach).
The Novamen ep is a 6 tracker from Overdose and guests which re-processes the cheese from the Street Sound electro series – pulsing beat boxes, stacatto fx, dramatic keyboard build-ups failing to hide the tinny sounding synthesizers. Surely all those people who were genuinely and passionately into the whole ethos of the Street Sound philosophy will be now well advanced into their 30’s and working in insurance or sales jobs? Without sounding elitist it was never a niche that hinted at any longevity or seriousness within its consumer base, which makes it even more incredulous that 9/10 of the producers and labels featured in mags like Sleaze Nation will hark back to this period like it was the deﬁning i moment in their miserable lives. Okay, Egyptian Lover might have had some force to bring the machine to life but the rest (Roxanne Shante who based about three albums worth of tracks on spelling her name, Chris ‘The Glove’ Taylor, and most of the stuff on the often quoted Prelude label) make dubious reference points to put it mildly. Which makes this a weird release for Bunker after their pop-pollution outings with the likes of Syncom Data. Maybe i’m missing something?
Ihan ‘Iota’ Mille Plateaux 81
Alva Noto ‘Prototypes’
Mille Plateaux 82
If these two releases show anything relating to the clicks_+_cuts synopsis drafted out in various zines, then it shows that things were at best over-presumptive and at worst totally wrong. The signal that excited me was the desire to take techno and house tracks and to scientiﬁcally chop and adjust to the ﬁnest reference points, whilst still keeping a minutely perceptible link to the original ‘funk’ or ‘groove’. The presence of non Mille Plateaux artists (like Brinkmann) or other labels (like Klang) perhaps shifted the emphasis of the project, because these two subsequent releases belong ﬁrmly to the ‘post-processing’ fold that MP was fostering before they revealed the clicks_+_cuts double pack. The mode on these two releases is of taking microscopic digital machine elements and of sequencing them in a minimalistic tradition, the rhythm emerging not as a ghostly nod of gratitude towards established dance genres but as a natural – almost environmental in the sense of an internal machine environment – process. To the unconcrened this might smack of technique versus technique to produce what, ostensibly to the disaffected ear, may sound remarkably similar, but the deconstructed funk of Brinkmann et al has both an indeﬁnite, greyed community of listeners and a non-ﬁxable arena of broadcasting making its use and abuse a more open-ended spectrum of possibilities. In retaliation the post-processing scene represented here ﬁnds a concrete audience in the sound/art activist milieu who release to signpost a ‘where we are’ type unspoken dialogue, and it ﬁnds a concrete arena of broadcast in the gallery or digital sound/art festival. Its a completed paradigm shift as much as the gig was replaced by the rave, but you can’t help feeling that the art scene – being in place previously to this shift – has been waiting for the ripe opportunity to co-opt a branch of the avant-garde end of electronica. Some spectators on the scene might suggest that this is the best thing (for instance Reynolds’ ‘Energy Flash’ book talks distastefully of the eclectic electronica scene trying to ﬁt itself around the club format). Similarly the dissemination of these CDs retreats back onto the expanded MP website where consumer options are supplemented by technical innovation (ability to download samples) and intense artistic statements with each release. This latter step effectively circumvents the review, obliterating both the physical writing of a descriptive or suggestive, and switching the audience towards engaged sound activists or consumers of art (both of whom ransom a different set of demands for listening). Secular conspiracy theory aside some suggestives and descriptives can be offered in the form of an ‘old school’ review. Ihan come from France, but spurious notions of nationalised sounds don’t replicate themselves in the post-processing milieu (no ﬁltered glitches then). What can be found are ﬁnished items that deﬁne themselves as out of the ordinary in terms of what they constuct rather than developing any particular unique source sounds or sourcing techniques (just the usual glitches, blips and throbs). ‘Iota’ – all the tracks algebraically titled of course – seems to structure breakbeats rather than the chromosone regularity of the 4/4 (one track even mimics what could best be described as calypso). Alva Noto is an operating name of Carsten Nicolai, curator of the ultra-collectable 20 to 2000 series. Nicolai is no stranger to this game and increasingly seems to stand apart in terms of sounds and sourcing, pulling out the edgier, tenser and more disorientating digital touches, cutting down samples with a clinical precision to sow more seeds of confusion. On occasions he even breaks into a funkier terrain, meeting and mutely acknowledging the likes of Brinkmann as they themselves take their infrequent forays into the domain of ultra- minimalism from the opposite direction. Perhaps the sight of such ﬁgures ﬁlls him with angst – maybe its an art versus popular music thing – because he always abruptly turns and exits the same way he entered, closely the door tightly shut behind himself.
Gas ‘Pop’ Mille Plateaux 83
This being the fourth main instalment of Mike Ink’s ‘Gas’ project, and markedly different from the others in that the regimented drum kicks have drifted absently from the mix. This comes as some disappointment as the two Gas tracks on the loft living designated 20 to 2000 series were constructed using a stripped down and ampliﬁed ‘phut’ with the effects often congregating around a 3-beat cycle to instil a slowly evolving disorientation. Whether this absence is a consequence of Ink’s hyper-extensive output on his own project labels throughout 1999, a deliberate strike against the oversimpliﬁed reading of convergence into the clicks_+_cuts sound, or indeed, a personal intention of Ink himself is impossible to tell – this being the only release on the MP website without a theorectical accompaniment. Added to that the packaging remains ambiguous with close up work of coniferous foilage and digitally enhanced sky breaking through sunlit leaf strucures. Tracklisting, credits or explanatory notes are all forsaken. To be fair, Ink’s work as Gas predated the clicks_+_cuts genre and still sits awkwardly in its technically productive remit. Gas is less about repeatedly bifurcating the 4/4 process and more about instilling a pale blueprint in the listener. The sounds remain muted and distant, seemingly separated not only by distance but by mutating physical barriers to listening. The metaphor suggested would be the process of summoning up distant memories by sitting contentedly in a room in a large house, each room affording glimpses to particular memories associated with particular sounds. Gas suggests pleasure in both the selective memeories that are allowed to come into focus (good friends long since forgotten or departed) and in the overall process of articulating such selectivity (things are rekindled rather than yearned for) – this corresponds directly to both the sounds (classical sections, swirling drones) and their treatments (heavily muted and skilfully transposed). These descriptives have been said before and will be said again unless Ink gives more clues to his intentions, but for the meantime fans of this project will be neither disappointed nor surprised at ‘Pop’.
Taylor Deupree ‘.N’ Ritornell 11
With such a swish sounding name you’d expect Taylor Dupree to be pursuiting a career in formula 1 driving, not delving around the digital extremes to extend the output on the inversely barren Ritornell imprint. Deupree concerns himself with nanotechnology, explaining in the sleeve notes the basis of this subject – the ability to manipulate technology at the atomic level. He remains neutral in his assessment of the subject, such that he prophesises ‘devices with signiﬁcent societal impact’ – though one cannot assume a marxist, almost dogmatic, critique of such technologies following previous work by the likes of Mark Poster and his important comparisons of marxist, liberalist and post-structuralist theories of database culture (see ‘Mode of Information’). ‘.N’ could be considered in this later category of post-structuralist engagement, falling outside of both both critique and celebration, instead embracing the inter-relationships that new technologies assume and impose, together with the structures of resistance and mutation that grow from their impact. Taken in this consideration it is possible to see ‘.N’ as a kind of theoretical text inviting both the generation of ideas and the collapsing of assumptions around a newly evolving technology. The next logical step from this would be in imploding the format of the review, necessitating an interlinked discussion between the sounds themselves and other socio-political manifestations. For the meantime, partly due to a lack of speciﬁc background knowledge, we will have to forsake this. However, attempting a more ‘formal’ review of ‘.N’ as a piece of music raises more serious questions whose answers do not simply lie in a switch to this new mode of reviewing, as we shall now see. Whether Deupree is suggesting that his sounds, obviously stylistically reminiscent of others in the post-processing and auto-electronica scenes, are the state of the art ‘atomic level’ representations such that they form the building blocks of a new music, or whether he is trying to sonically interpret the manifestations of nanotechnology put to use in other applications, is the crucial question whose answer propels much of the output in this busy genre. One could suggest that those artists and labels operating in the latter category – ie the ‘environmental’ samplers who get deep inside to map the glitches and run-time routines literally as they occur, and i’d include this release in this category – have a terrain of operation that is both inﬁnitely narrow and inﬁnitely long. We can also add to this the fact that the use and reasons for consumption of such ‘music’ is a radical break from previous models. Meanwhile, those who wish to engage themselves with codes of musicality, genre and taste subversion – whether by dissecting to the point of forcing a new reading of a sound or by integrating extreme digital source sounds back into the tracks – have to exercise a bit more graft and ingenuity, mainly because such a radical break with modes of consumption cannot be assumed and has to be teased into existence. A process that is ultimately more subversive and rewarding.
snd ‘Travelog’ snd3
snd ‘System Medley’ City Centre Ofﬁces 4
Komet blir remixes
Like a print message gone wrong, spooling out a document with one line per page sandwiched between sparse codes of computer hieroglyphics, the snd output continues. And not unlike these bizarre sheets that any sound and sane man would consider as a pure waste of time, resources and technology do we ﬁnd an intimate and childish beauty struggling to communicate across its well established chatter. The Komet project introduces digital minimalist stalwart Frank Bretschneider to the Shefﬁeld enclave, and these 4 tracks traverse a slow shift from slight funk (underpinned by blips and clipped bass) to just a slight slightness. In the ﬁrst instance the digital percussives pull the track in from an external wilderness, only to eventually act as holding ropes to stop the whole from ﬂoating away into non- existance. ‘Travelog’ eschews all the obvious confrontational tendencies to suggest – dare one say it – an organic feel that takes the processing stiffness into a completely different direction to that executed (and reviewed in the preceeding pages with such difﬁculty) on some of the year 2000 Mille Plateaux output. Someone remarked that clubbers relate to anthemic club music basically through its peaks and troughs, waiting for the rush and the high, gliding through the breakdowns. Similarly an episode of a soap opera is constructed such that it always ends on such a peak, a course of action that leaves the viewer gripped until the next installment. If snd manage to distinguish themselves by treating the subject of dance music as something they love, as something they monitor in its minute decomposition (rather than an a prioi purpose of pulling apart to simply reconstruct) then Travelog would be a soap opera circumvented at its most mundane point – some passing dialogue in a pub, chip shop or taxi-cab – revealing the subject through the grotesque beauty that its complexities hide.
Various ‘Alt.frequencies 4’ Worm Interface
Worm Interface has been in on most of the strategic ‘drifts’ from techno, having been major stakeholders in the experimental ambient, electronica and – latterly – drill and bass scenes. Last year saw Worm Interface bring in a move away from the inherently British, brutish and (ultimately) anally transﬁxed drill and bass scene which was beginning to sound like a cross between Keith from the Prodigy supplying the breakbeats and Keith from Keith Harris and Orville supplying the moronic interludes. Long players from newcomers like Plasmalamp and Jake Mandell charted a new direction in the use of slower breaks and better developed (and more resourcefully utilised) sounds, aligning themselves with ‘cryptofunk’ labels like Schematics and new-school electro producers such as those clustered around the Rome scene. ‘Alt.frequencies 4’ is balanced towards this more intriguing and satisfying sound, with Meek, Gamers In Exile, Rook Vallard, Solenoid, Jake Mandell, Galerie Srtatique and Plod all providing the glitchy electro mixed with 80’s style melodies that is facilitated by modern software – the jitteryness and clever tricknology of using 7/8 beats and de-synched passages highlighting the huge advances in the ‘street level’ (or, correctly speaking, ‘bedroom level’) technology. This advanced sound and structure technique is both distinguished from and complementary to the more 80’s oriented ‘neuromantic’ genre, its difference being emphasised by the total lack of lyrical objectives in the 12 tracks. The remainder of the CD works the remnants of some of electronica’s other sub-genres; Koichi providing an early Squarepusher style breakbeat romp, while Himuro and Barak provide ﬁlmic scores for the armchair set. Strangely, the downside is provided by the two Warp acts; Freeform contribute a techno meets silly faces track and Mira Calix continues on from her current Warp album that seems to trawl around in a sweet sounding electronic void that suggests little in terms of unique sound or genre- tweaking structure.
Christian Vogel ‘Rescate 137’ NovaMute
Vogel (and partner Liddell) willingly play the part of electronica’s bogus social workers, gatecrashing the scene’s obsession to minute detail with slabs of ill-matched techno-funk that clump together the precise and rigid anti-poles of Plaid’s quirky electronic 1-cal niblets and (say) Jackdaw With Crowbar’s freeform saturation bombings. Whilst as a duo (Super Collider) they buttress the frailty of a fashion scene that is trying to unite nations youth behind wearing Iron Maiden tee-shirts, their solo projects lose the fashion gloss and begin to prick the conscience’s of electronica’s reservoir of seriousness. And they’re still crap. Vogel, having quickly despatched with his serious output on Mille Plateaux, and having taken his ironic prophesy of all music coming to an end and curtailing his Tresor output, now signs to UK ﬂagship label NovaMute (while Liddell has recently released on that other label Warp). Thus, if Tresor represented techno’s wafer thin line between genius and madness, then it is anybody’s guess as to what side of the tracks Vogel has come out on when he throttled into techno’s terminus. ‘Rescate 137’ is a messy attempt to revisit lost genres through the tools of the new, creating nothing revalatory as a missing link but more of an eleborately crafted Piltdown Man. A token gurgled short intro track leads into yet another run through ‘Kundalini’ before the resultant tracks adopt a style of robotomised Level 42 slap-bass cod-funk (for that vital 80s ingredient) morphed with beats and breaks from the various modern schools. Having no redeeming features one can only assume that Vogel’s idea that all music has come to an end is dimly indicated in this highly controlled explosion of 20 years worth of tighly sealed youth culture genres.
Panacea ‘German Engineering’
Having set the pace at the onset of brutal sci-ﬁ drum and bass, drifted through various collaborations and non-sequences as the virus of hard-tech 2-step ran rampant, Panacea now reaches for his rewards in rock star heaven. This album takes a similar script to many of the major drops from the hip-hop/thrash crossover outﬁts which have recently been giving the boybands a run for their money on Top of the Pops. Obligatory ‘Parental Advisory’ symbols, interjections of sound snippets boasting of gangsta style living with girlies and hoes, and a sample pool segueing together cut up drum and bass, feedback lunges, digital processing and -er- lots of ravey breakbeats – this seems a direct ploy to ensnare never-say-die ravers to sample the delights of the forbidden fruit of the aforementioned Limp Bizkit style creations. The technique of fast and furious sampling divests the work of any sinister edge, making it possible to reconsider Panacea’s early work (‘Stormbringer’ and ‘Torture’ for example, both revisited on this album) as distinct from the ‘Taxi Tracks’ mentality within the scene about 5 years ago, instead keeping a foothold in the pure physicality of the rave scene that immediately preceded this period.
Frank Bretschneider ‘Curve’ Mille Plateaux
Andreas Tilliander ‘Ljud’
Both these precisely packaged releases stem from the even more precisely packaged sound and design of Germany’s Raster Noton label. There is a worrying tendency in this genre that, for all the radicalism of the initial clicks and cuts releases, electronica is returning to the conservatism that permeated its beingness in the golden age of ambient. Cynics may even suggest that this conservatism never went away. From the listeners point of view clicks and cuts sounded exciting in that it laid down a grey-blueprint for the deconstruction of the 4/4 belief systems, but the consumption of music in the post-punk era (stripped of the expressive use values of the danceﬂoor) instead turned to focus on the aspects of micro-programming and software manipulation. It’s orators clinging onto the technological driftwood. Instead of adopting a playful autopsy of the danceﬂoor zone, it has simply resorted to a forensic, microbiological analysis of the state of affairs. With this in mind one could interpret these two releases as simple progressions from the main room to the back room, as the sounds of dub and breakbeat are subjected to the same rigour and analysis as the 4/4 code. The next step will be the important one.
‘Reduce’ Force Inc
Having had the redecorators in and gone for a digital makeover, this collection signals a return to form of Force Inc by the simple fact that it combines the work completed in the Mille Plateaux series and follows the trace lines of funk rather than the bright star of programming wizardry. Placed alongside the extended output of techno labels like Tresor this comes across as a Blade Runner style simulation, obviously different but intriguing enough through its play with and substitution of sound and structure codes. Post ice-age super club music.
Heimelektro ulm popular series – parts 1 and 2
Having reviewed the ﬁrst instalment favourably elsewhere, it’s worth commenting on the second selection which passed my detection and now resurfaces as a double pack. There’s a continuation of the low-ﬁ feel which now extends beyond the Skam style electronica genre by including references to the punk era itchiness and intensity fostered by the likes of Fast Product and Pop Aural (obviously Germany had its own take on this but i was only an excited kid at that time). This combination of thrashy melodies, distorted beatboxes and dsp effects is topped off by vocal affronts that make you wish you could speak the language – Jetzmann’s track making me feel like i was 15 again. The signs of a revival of this confrontational punk/electronic/pop scene are all now in place – be ineresting to see how it develops in the current climate.
___reviews above by _____________ Ian Trowell
Sash! – With My Own Eyes (Multiply)
It takes guts and charm to release a track like this. In the face of snideness, pretension, and wholehearted antiEurobeatism a man like Sash! realises the record of the year. Undissuaded by the current trend contra all-in-one sampler/sequencers he ejaculates into 2001 dragging his pityless existance with him. Just feel sorry for his kids.
Max Tundra – Some Best Friend You Turned Out To Be (Domino)
British electronica can be a bit tedious at the best of times – you’d rather not be reminded of sweets and bedtime when you were five, but here we see a classic effort. Creative mixtures of instruments and electronics, live and then sequenced, the Antiques Roadshow and then FutureFloor. A proper journey through life from many angles, the dark facet of nostalgia cutting your cortex like a devil machine: music for your life.
Cabbageboy – Genetically Modified (Ninja Tunes)
He plugs his mixer via neuroelectronic tranducers into his own DNA matrix where all the information since the beginning is stored and lets it spew. Not even Nu Skool anything, it is what it says it is: televised information taken apart and quantised to the quanta in your head. Based around drum breaks, perfectionist programming and wicked production source one of the best bits of plastic this year.
Jega – Geometry (Ziq)
Presently leading the “who’s the best on Reaktor” competition, Jega has created a benchmark for sound annihilation. Much of the record is best listened to under your duvet with the lights off, but there are some towering pinnacles. Deep, dark, industrial, but forcing positive mental images whilst it aligns with your neural feedback. A couple of tracks here are vital for shredding your Nikes, and the rest easily convince you that you are a robot, lost in time, searching for your next fix of electricity.
Noodles Discotheque Volume One
British techtronix come of age with this super compilation. The first release on Si Begg’s new label oozes futurism, humour, and downright mymamatoldmenottodoit electronik funk. Trax from himself and others blend into one morphic piece on each side. eventsBeginToSpiralOutOfControl by Cursor Miner is the frontliner for me, bringing futurebeat perfection to your oscillating toes. House or Techno or Breaks or whatever, it doesn’t really matter when you create something that nibbles at your shadow. More of this please.
reviews by Redmax
16-17 Mechanophobia 12”
16-17 has always been on the cutting edge. Whether it be warped, dislocated jazz or their abrasive harddisk efforts. With releases on pre-Praxis labels and Pathological, Kevin Martin’s now defunct imprint noteworthy for its early Ice and techno animal LPs, or DHR;16-17 has made us contemplate a bit more than many laptop rockers and jazz perverters. With their unorthodox approach and obviously endorsement of soundsystem improper,at least in terms of conventionality or form but the production is sleezily slick, this release ﬁnds the rotating cast of the “digit”-al project perverting hardstep, drum n’ bass mechanics to suit themselves. Melodic in spots, rivetting and technical throughout, Alex Buess has shown us once again that 16-17 is not to be dismissed as ordinary. The a-side is very clever and actually maintains a sort of “rollin” quality throughout the chaotic ﬁltrations that Buess & co bastardize it with. The ﬂip is much noisier, there’s some wicked soundz therein…and I think the vocoder sample in spots should be somewhat signiﬁcant to c8 alumns. Perhaps not the most danceable release, and certainly not the harshest; however, this release is extremely technical and impressing to the ear…whether it be trained or not. I can’t wait to weave this into an improper set! For my ears only of course. On the reccomendations tip, check out Lou Ciccotelli’s Eardrum project which has released a 12” & an LP on Leaf as well as appearing on Justin Broadrick’s underpraised lo ﬁbre compilation, as well as 16-17’s live bassist, Damian Bennet’s Carthage project….an audio visual experiment not to be dismissed.And of course any of Kevin Martin’ s God and Ice records. _Jason Byram
Bambule Praxis 29
Follow-up to Praxis 19 double pack this is a 4 tracker of drone & mayhem, making another indentation with this quality,diverse release. With a Soldnergeist-esque A side paired with remix treatment from Photon Emissions ( AKA Somatic Responses) this release will be championed by the c8 community for some time. “Vertical Invasion” ﬁnds us going through a black ambient,post industrialist nightmare…texturous and ﬁbrous and quite on the sensual tip. This is what i like about praxis, there is always a great deal of uncompromising material which surfaces on their releases. This track will surely be my lullaby. The second number,” joy is the aim” of the a side ﬁnds us with a nice minimal selection of melodicism atop slow rhythmic grinds and manipulated vocal samples. Slow, not quite beatless and very effective and inspiring to say the least. Moments like these could be proudly displayed on many other avant-garde labels to boot. I’m thinking I could’ve heard something like this on a ﬂip of the fat cat singles series….that clever!
Photon Emissions give these previously unreleased( and still in their original form) the swank remix treatment. The Welsh duo also known as Somatic Responses can do no wrong it appears. >From their releases on hymen, shadowcast, CFET, deadly systems etc.. John & Paul Healy have had a profound impact on the dark,post techno-broken beat sound of c8.”Thirdforce” is an amazing escapade in the typical ( total class) somatic’s harsh industrial mayhem w/ melodic synth stabs over the bed of rhythm. Nice rigid, pummeling breaks that are sure to tear up your subs or the ﬂoor. The techno-esque sweetness of the melodic key-line is perhaps the most deﬁnitive element of the track though…I’d say those keys codify for beauty even to my own skewed perception. Beauty+ brutality= somatics! Mind you , these tracks are also originally written and produced by Bambule, but have yet to be pressed ( if they ever will.) Moving on to the next track, i can’t quite convince myself of which is better. Both the former and the latter, “tripped wire”, have an amazing amount of incredible melodicism atop incredible harsh mechanization. I hesitate to sound redundant and overly enthusiastic about this release…but it is sensational. Tripped Wire starts off w/ an eerie dark ambience which blends into sustained darkwave synths and eventually a prominent percussive techstep ( klinkety-klank) rumbles in. Minimal and nice….the breakdown will certainly grab the ﬂoor with it’s incredible stabbing bass synth line. Again, the somatic’s amalgam of brutality & undeniably joyous melody is exercised to great avail within both of these tracks. Not to say the tracks are mundane or predictable…they are quite the opposite and deserve justiﬁable props. If you can still ﬁnd this, grab it & cane it. Worth it’s weight in c8 gold.
Subversion 004 Subversion/Praxis
Fringeli and Pure are back w/ their corruption of tech/hardstep mechanics. Prior subversion releases set the benchmark for shrillstep. Subversion 4 is a nice progressive continuation of the series. With it’s lack of regard for the conﬁnements of the techstep framework and medley of drill n’ bass with noize, I see this imprint ﬂourishing and providing some of the most innovative sounds to shovel the peat of the underground.Fringeli brings us “Fuel for the Fire” for the A side while his cohort Pure resides on the ﬂip.
High end grade distortion atop some nice midlevel ﬁltered concussion assaults you on the intro; harsh percussive PE rumbling and upheavels of tweeter shred augment the aforementioned with great effect. Shorty a somewhat downtempo broken beat grabs that hangnail you meant to tend to and squeezes just a bit. Moody and minimal in spots the ﬁbrous intro melds into klinikal cymbals and looped broken beats.Nice power tool-esque metallic percussion forays make Mathis Mootz want to recall his rootz. Notice the basslines and the somewhat dismal atmospherics create a very rich experience for the listener. This track is very harsh indeed and not for the faint of heat, but not brutal for merely the sake of ( the shred is smart)and demonstrates that mood and aesthetic can be very important ingredients of the broken beat template when utilized properly. In my opinion the track is somewhat reminiscent of earlier ambush releases, in form but not sound; the very clever underlying rhythm and textural elements prove to be the fruit of merit as oppossed to the percussion, which is top notch mind you. Deﬁnitely unprecedented and a must have for the praxis advocate. But
Eventually, about midway through the track, bombardment of the senses occurs. Yet it is clever and not brutal without intent. Various shrills, hisses, screeches weave themselves into the mix atop more broken, percussive rigidity. Brutal to say the least…but very integral and smart.The middle section of the track has surely been caned @ various nights on the right side of the pond. the latter stages of the track yields to a lumbering broken techstep which disintegrates into the caustic resin of a beat descimated…leaving a mixture of staticy, lo end rumbling deﬁntely tempting to the tinnitus sufferer… you’ll ﬁnd some nice bassline distortion towards the end as well as a nice outro. Two thumbs up.
Dj Pure brings the distortion with a very interesting intro. Can you feel the tweak. “Let’s all team up and Fight ‘em”…and before you realize it’s an Amen feeding frenzy. Much faster than the ﬂip yet not nearly as uncompromising. The percussion mechanics are deﬁntely swank but they bear more of a resemblance to ultra fast amen hardstep or old DHR-tempered amens; is that bad? OF COURSE NOT! “ﬁght ‘em” has an incredible bass drop that pummels you while your sphincter jolts to the sound of the amen cut up. The repeated vocal sample, the amen fooray, the bass-depth charges and the semi melodic key line leave you bobbing your head w/ sheer appreciation of technical bliss. This track really punches the cones nice and will be on my platter for some time no doubt. Get it while you can. .
A diverse release w/ distinctly different BPMs that will surely do your headcase some good.Get it while you can. Jason Byram
Istari Lasterfahrer – Infokalypse – Sozialistischer Plattenbau MLP1
A four track mini LP from Hamburg, two tracks of which: Infokalypse and Panoptikum paste the splinters of exploded jungle breaks back into gradually evolving reconstructions. Panoptikum has a deeper almost underwater feel and is preferable because of it. Preceding Panoptikum is a short burst of, old synth introduced, vari-tempo amen snares ﬁghting with crunchier beats for air space. The last track on this side is the most useful, reminiscent of the Ab-hinc material on Widerstand: a spacious tense mix of darker synths, noise snippets and full and half speed beaks; the stepping break thats used is given a tinny treatment at ﬁrst, functioning more like a hi-hat, before taking on a fuller role later.
Crisis Theory – Sub/version 005
Continuing the exploration of the limits of the tech-step genre, number ﬁve sees the collaboration of C. Fringeli and R. Kozak under the moniker of Crisis Theory. The two tracks combine the harsh shrillness of the Praxis label with the darker more cinematic feel of Zhark, perhaps in some ways limiting the ﬁnal sound by having to compromise. This latest Sub/version installment does operate at the limits of the tech-step sound: the breaks are given a metallic harshness, complicated edits and incredibly powerful bass forcing the dancer/listener to pay attention; a dark edgy feel pervading the whole mix. However, whereas the previous four releases, which although operating at the harder/extreme end of the tech-step sound, could still be envisaged as being played in a jungle situation, the more abstract, perhaps futuristic, nature of this release limits its playability, but then futuristic records by deﬁnition never ﬁt in to a predeﬁned style.
Praxis 35/Zhark LP01 test
The Hecate project matures with the ﬁrst long player. Production is tightened, reaching a new level of clarity: recognising the poetics of space. The now trademark dark synths are molded into eleven tracks of mainly bass heavy, broken steppers, but also two beatless pieces and a deeper rolling slow break cut. The overall sound is powerful and although not as intensiﬁed as Hatecats, it is a record of eminently playable/danceable hard funk.
Four tracker of slow distorted beats becoming infected at times with speedcore and double speed breaks. The emphasis is all on the beats here, with little intention to bother with many sounds; but its an interesting turnaround for the French scene, whereas previously slow beats might function as a half-speed breakdown, this record extends the breakdowns into whole tracks and adds suggestions of speed.
Bombdogs – 101 damnations – Audio Illusion 3015
Its been a long time coming since the incredible ﬁrst Bombdogs epic, and those expecting more harshstepping could be slightly disappointed. The two cuts here arent instant smashers, but come to life in the mix being in a more rolling drum and bass style.
Joker – Sweet Violence Index 01
New label, which sees the Joker/Cyanide sound developing into an interesting self-consciously lo-ﬁ, post-electro offshoot. Structural damage to the usual electro pattern is observed, and the beats are given a grainy but some how clear treatment. As with the previous Joker releases the excellent edits are also tight and well executed. Recommended.
DJ Scud/I-Sound – Mortal Clash EP – Ambush 08 Aphasic – Bass and Superstructure – Ambush 09
Forgettable I-Sound side with the best track being a remix of one of Scuds, but Scud drops a couple of playable cuts on the ﬂip with Short Sharp Shock and Trauma. The former begins with a lead up to a gun recoil followed by an explosive unleashing of extreme frequencies, radio interference and tight well edited breaks. The latter takes a ragga dancehall rhythm and roughs it up some infecting it with snatches of noise and distorted vocals. Aphasic goes for a more breakcore/breaknoise approach, shaving most of the bass from the production, giving the breaks more prominence and adding ragga/mc vocal snippets. Of the ﬁve tracks here the stand out comes as Bloody Nora!: opening with some shrill frequency abuse, cutting in an Oh my God, absolutely wicked! vocal then dropping in the beats which gradually work up the pace with a nice amen edit. Kovert
Undercover London comes up with a four track EP consisting of two tech-steppers, one slow electro cut and a techno track. The ﬁrst of the steppers works best with heavy rolling drums and low growling synth bass. Kovert
DJ Controlled Weirdness – Unearthly 04
The Unearthly saga continues…updating old-school vibes, incorporating electro-bass, scratched up hip-hop beats, thick analogue sounds and some video game sample theft: this is London calling…check the website for more unearthly business. Kovert
Excellent six track mix-up of styles and moods. Opening with a scene from a Turkish smoke ﬁlled opium-house, charming the audience into submission; continuing, with a more sinister edge: dark choirs, slow beats and slithers of machine pain. Side A closes with a rather forgettable amen/bell workout, but side B veers away from the usual going back into darker territory: mixing orchestral manoeuvres around, at ﬁrst, slow beats, before encouraging a faster ﬁltered amen and eventually fully intensiﬁed breackcore. As the track approaches burn out, it drops…into a short piece of electronic jazz, which after the initial surprise, sounds like a natural progression. The record ﬁnishes with another slightly disappointing amen infused track, but overall this record is still recommended adversity. Kovert
Fringeli/DJ Pure – Fuel for the ﬁre/Fight em – Sub/Version 004
On test for over a year, but still sounding fresh. Fuel for the ﬁre by CF taking the stepping structure and carefully editing in various noise/ interference excerpts and sliced breaks, while a low bass surges forward, ﬁnally fully dropping three quarters of the way through. Pure takes an epic breakcore direction: stretching noise frequencies around barely changing breaks, a warbling bass coming in frustratingly infrequently. Long overdue!
Various artists – Addict 02
Abelcain provides the party pressure sound on this one: Introduced by a melancholic cello, rough amens are then sliced with snippets of noise before being flattened by a monstrous rounded bass midway. The rest of the ep is split between Doormouse (hardtek), Stuntrock (filth and noise loops) and Ed cetera (strange breaks). Good to have a mixture of styles, but the other 3 tracks lack the energy and intensity of Abelcain’s necrophilia.
Noize Creator ˆ Ambush 12
Excellent ep of clean broken beats, spastic breaks and freaked out structures. Of the 5 tracks on offer ‘hate cops’ seems to work best. Beginning as what seems like an oldˆschool jungle affair, it‚s not long before a sheet of searing noise blasts away any preconceptions, and everything gets shaken up; a huge bass fills the void often left on hard-break records and after a short break-down a nicely distorted break is thrown over the top, fitting well into the mix.
The Bug ˆ Killer ˆ Razor X
7″ coming with a big jamaican style hole and a heavy, heavy distorted dancehall style rhythm. The Bug aka Techno Animal‚ provides the massive beats with rootsman + he-man (!) chatting over the top. Not quite in the same league as kill or be killed‚, but still doing damage.
Rotator ˆ chicken boogie ˆ brooklyn beats
Part of the (sic) brooklyn beats series and one of the best Rotator tracks to date. Defiling the dancehall style, Rotator pair brutal kicks with amen variations and distorted vocal snippets. Hard to find but worth tracking down.
Tokyo Windbag ˆ Subway Lung ˆ Control Tower
Massive distorted electro and overdiven vocals on one side and a more kitsch approach on the other. We prefer the heavy side of course, giving a new reason not to travel on London Underground: better take the bus!
Hecate/Eiterherd ˆ Zod 02
Truly disturbing music from Hecate making Eiterherd’s side seem to lack a little something. The first two cuts infuse piercing beats, breaks and malevolence, whilst the last piece remains beatless. The appropriately named “slice of stress‚, is just that. Combining emotively charged synths with filtered breaks, the whole track seems to bleed the information: something’s not right. Eiterherd on the other side offers two cuts of rapid fire breaks and heavy kicks, which are interesting in places but never seem to quite achieve the intensity Hecate evokes.
Supernal ( Still Raven 01)
Dark breaks with a rave edge. Hecate repents and offers some slightly more accessible material; playing on the current rave revival, seen particularly in UK drum and bass, but taking it to a much darker side. So we get samples of “31 seconds” and what sounds like “gravitational arch of 10‚, but offset with occult breaks, creeping synths/choirs and instructive vocals. Excellent and very danceable.
Heavy industrial grooves reminiscent of older AFX and Cylob material: huge overdriven kicks are lined with drifting monotonous synth lines to great psychedelic effect.
——–above reviews by _____Kovert
The second release on this offshoot of Outbreak Recordings presents two tracks from Switzerlands’ D-Kay , whose ‘Ghost Hunt’ (as Aikon) provided the ﬁrst release on this promising label . The A-side ‘Pressure Release’ does just that ; a tense build up of industrial percussion and spooked strings drops into a fat bassline bust up of breaks and dark rave stabs , disappearing into a pit of vocal cut ups , ready for the bass to pile in once again . ‘Present’ on the B-side is a more abstract , caustic affair the stuttering break is layered with and insectlike buzzing and boom bass. An edgy atmosphere pervades with tension increasing as deeper layers of rhythmic confusion interlock not one for the weak of mind.
The ﬁfth instalment of the consistently excellent Outbreak series has Dylan (Droppin Science , XXX & Biotic) , hammering it out across two top cuts. ‘Drama’ opening with deceptively lightweight beats and vocal snippets before the sprawling robotic bassline kicks in; raising the temperature several hundred degrees . Fat beats and dirty percussion create a swaggering deranged funk that characterises this proliﬁc producers twisted style . Flip to side B for ‘Burner’ , a collaboration with L.A.’s DJ Flux; a ﬂuid rollout centred around a nasty little rave riff which compliments the heavyweight ‘Drama’ very nicely . Also check Dylans’ new stuff on Loxys’ Cylon Recordings for more evilness.
Gambit:-’Onslaught’ (Slo Motion 6)
Exceedingly fresh drum and bass from Gambit following up ‘Dim Sum’. (soon to be remixed), and the wicked Genotype release (SMR 5). ‘Onslaught’ on the AA side rolls forth with fat bass stabs and lively percussion combined with spaced out tones to produce a cool mechanical vibe , not hammering but still satisfying due to clever arrangements and progressive atmospherics . ‘Floozy’ on the other side uses all together meatier sounds and kicking drums to produce a volatile cocktail of almost jump up tech madness ; a full on tightly produced slice of maximum velocity fun that ﬂows with a certain dark logical inevitability.
DJ Swift:-Charge 10/11 & Blade 1 / 2
2001 witnessed the launch of Blade the infamous Mampi Swifts’ new label , ostensibly created to release more danceﬂoor orientated material , but to be honest there seems to be little difference in the styles on offer between this and mother label Charge . Basically all the new Swift stuff rocks it. ‘Blade #1’ lays down the law with Side A providing the nastiest yet from the man; ﬁlthy rifﬁng bassline disorder from the ﬁrst drop , building to a pleasing white-out of pure distortion before the trademark over-driven breaks kick back in. ‘Blade#2’ takes things to a deeper percussive level, with cut away bassline rollouts and shifting percussion creating screwed up hypnotic loops which can cause danceﬂoors to freeze over due to the cold precision of break / bass design .
The long established Charge provide more harshness in the form of #10. Totally mean ﬂoor tracks once again, with the slightly out of control style that makes this label stand out from the rest. Side A ‘The Trend’ kicks in with razor sharp hats and ominous chimes before tripping out on a typically warped B-line which dominates the track, going through all manner of shifts and tweaks whilst run-away drums give maximum velocity in the mix. Time stretched snares and eerie vocal samples chop in and out constantly adding to the full on effect. Side B ‘Control’ uses some very disorientating beak patterns along with some evil bass to produce some very strange effects. Wicked drum / hat edits result in a very rough ride into the depths of the mixer, providing further proof of Swifts skills in the studio. These new releases for me set a benchmark of ruffness in U.K. drum and bass that few can hope to achieve , the formulaic structures of the current D&B scene are just parameters within which this twisted producer works and the instantly recognisable level of energy on Charge / Blade tracks places both labels at the top of the pile which considering who the true purveyors of future funk really are.
Special Branch;-’Dub Transmission’ (Penny Black)Presumably by Ray Keith , this seriously heavy double pack has absolutely no frills , no poptastic melodies or trancey structures , just pure nasty jungle. Menacing but without any self conscious “we are this hard” nonsense. The sub bass falls off the scale thus rendering this unsuitable for home listening ; sounding like a load of old dubplates but when played over a properly fat rig you feel the force.
Circuit Breaker:-’Tron’ (Spektrum Audio)
Fat and futuristic rippers as usual from S.Audio , ‘Technology’ unleashing the Amen fury with pounding bass and the sickest rave hoovers .Breaking down in all the right places and made with the obvious intent of tearing up a dance ﬂoor, this can’t really be criticised at any level (what an easy review).The B-side ‘Tron’ is excellent also, a streamlined fast paced roll with hi-tech beats and a sinister Italian analogue horror synth riff twisting in and out of the mix. No idea who it’s by but highly recommended.
The increasingly proliﬁc Blue (Noir,Streetbeats,Southern Sessions) once again teams up with Raser to produce yet another off the wall drum and bass experiment. The level of break editing puts most to shame ; the Photekean angles of ‘Junk’ driven by massive subs and some scalpel sharp technoid stabs. The familiar Trace vacuum cleaner bass is applied to ‘The System’ on side B creating tension as the incessant live breaks roll out. Rather than creating predictable danceﬂoor anthems the vibe on Pi seems to be one of releasing innovative tunes that will stand the test of time. The ditching of obvious structures and attention to detail makes this one of my faves so far in 2001.
Digital:-’Jah Session’ (Function)
Once again Digital delivers the goods, ‘Waterhouse Dub’ being the choice cut on this 12”. Cavernous rave atmospherics and echobox tripped f.x. driven by the raw breaks and hardcore drum edits that have characterised his recent releases on Renegade Hardware and 31 recds. ‘Jah Session’ on the ﬂipside offers a less ominous angle on the sound. Stop/Start beats combine with a clonking riff punctuated with delay saturated vocal samples. Individual and innovative, Digitals’ take on drum and bass provides welcome relief in a scene increasingly dominated by safe, smooth, predictable sub trance dynamics
______reviews – by – — – Eun
Technical Itch presents PENETRATION
This new label by Tech Itch has produced 6 releases in the last few months, of which the fourth one The Ruckus/Nitron is the best (I have yet to hear the number 6 though). Less filtered and sinister than some of his earlier stuff (on Moving Shadow for example), and more straight up dancefloor smashers, The Ruckus employs anthemic basslines and freaking out on the Amen front, and therefore sticking out of the often anaemic d’n’b productions of late – even though we could ask why the old Amen is still considered to be a worthwhile tool. An approach that’s not too dissimilar to some recent material by Dylan that would be ‘breakcore’ if it wasn’t faithfully sticking to the d’n’b conventions, especially the one not to use distortion, and in that respect it goes only half the way it could as far as I’m concerned. Clean production, of course, and powerful presence nevertheless.
Outbreak Records Limited Edition
A new series or sub-label from Dylan’s Outbreak Records. Out so far are:
OUTBLTD1 Mind machine: Paranoia/Sanitarium
OUTBLTD2 Loxy & Ink: Soundwave / Ink: Drop Heavy
OUTBLTD3 Mind Machine: Acid Poetry / Myth
OUTBLTD4 Alpha Omega : Payback / Dark Aspects
All in a rather homogenous style that represents the tougher and better end of the current d’n’b circus, but despite pleasant moments fail to deliver the new excitement in form of more experiments or more aggressive outbreaks. If that’s what you want these are solid and wellproduced tools for the DJ that need more life injected by the mix with other styles.
Dylan & Loxy: Stereotype
The B-key side is an atmospheric stepper, nice, but nothing much to write about.
On a harder tip is the side, using a descending rave noise and snippets of the break that featured prominently on early Trace tunes and I sped up and abused for a few Base Force One tracks. Is it a stereotype? Still useful.
Hoovers & Spraycans
A(1991 Original by Mark One (DJ Choci))
B(2001 Remix by Dylan)
label: Retro 2001/Alphamagic
Early rave classic re-released and brought up to date by the ever so prolific Dylan.
This is more like it in terms of d’n’b – at least in my book. One side by DJ Hidden who also did the excellent Fear 001 and the other by Eye-D and Atomly that go together nicely, each a direct hit in its own right, carefully crafted and properly hard hitting. Dope!
Subsonic: Braized/C-Bus (Bloody Fist 26)
A return to drum’n’bass for the Fisters with a new act, but nothing as remarkable as the Overcast 12”s from a few years ago (Fist 16 &17), solid production though that fits in with the current Dylan and Tech Itch releases, being maybe a notch less smooth in the production, but that doesn’t have to be seen as a bad thing.
(Bloody Fist 24)
First I wasn’t into this at all but it’s grown on me a little bit since, if only a little bit: I could even imagine playing the last track “Trash” towards the morning hours at some dodgy East London ketamine party, but I’m not sure if that’s a recommendation. Anyhow, it’s a fisting fit record, by now mastered a bit better than in the old days, but still not (dog beware) communicating particularly subtle production skills in 4D. 4 tracks (+ intro) that, used correctly, might still get that baby dropped.
Mental Action Direct have been producing a consistent series of hard/tek/break/core crossovers, and the sixth installment isn’t an exception, especially on the first side. A bit more militant is the tone on the b1 track where a voice declares “Cette manifestation est interdit!” and the speed is cranked up without falling into the pitfalls of ‘frenchcore’. The final third track is more in a breaky-hardtek with vocals tip, but always with a proper sub-bass that comes to the rescue. Lively and eclectic again, even if I don’t find it as strong as their 2nd release (s. datacide 7).
Kor A Kor 001
A mini-compilation (4 trax) in response to the anti-rave legislation proposed by MP Mr. Mariani (L663). VDZ Break and MDB open side one with a good breakcore track with vocals (the lyrics, which of course deal with the new laws are printed in a booklet), to be followed by “Le Reveil” by GVK, a.k.a. Martel en Tete. The structure of the other side is similar – a vocal track by Dogsthorpe (very eclectic between hip hop, metal and d’n’b) and a piece of amiga-trash hardcore by DJ Elvira as Stupid Girl. A much needed expression of dissent giving a glimpse of possibilities beyond tekno at the same time, a self-declared Bordelika Produxion with potential.
Chuck Shite’s Dalston Uncovered – “A Foray into a Disfunctional Postcode”
(Trash EP 03)
After the (at least partly) excellent ‘$40’000 (and i could be a woman)’ by Troppman this is the third EP and 5th overall release on Brighton’s Trash label, that once again shows a love for superdistorted breaks with a subversive sense of humour, all in a way that does the name of the label honour. Seven tracklets on the A-side alone (and 6 more on the B) – so of course it’s not complex arrangements you could expect, but a decent amount of ammo for the distortion-breaks afficionado, breaks that at times could be made from the sound of the rubbish drop in a Hackney estate or the lust to torture Shoreditch yuppies, but then again sometimes they do remain disfunctional too.
Fat Drunk Dead
(Trash LP 03)
Trash has been releasing the same numbers of albums and single 12”s, but even these aren’t designed for the usual Brighton beach party DJ, instead are packed with tracks and noises and so is this latest double. But as with the previous releases the singles are convincing me more (my favorite for the time being remains the ‘40’000 $’ 12” and my least favorite the compilation). This one features, besides more references to alcohol, breaks of different speeds and moods, occasionally sounding more like cuttlery and less like rubbish shoots (I prefer the latter), and though it can drag on a little at times it does have its lucid moments, definitely preferable to most ‘idm’ any day or time of the night, while lacking the aggression – or passion – of most good ‘breakcore’.
Deathchant have been pumping out a steady stream of high class hardcore platters in recent years, combining breaks and 4 to the floor bass drums with convincing production skills (we reviewed number 24 in the last issue). While they do have a tendency to get quite similar – and usually Hellfish seemed to have reserved most of his more experimental material for his album (released on Planet Mu in England and now on Neurotoxic in France) from which this 12” is culled – there was the odd flop (like the relapse into kind of happycore territory on number 29) and the odd strike of something special, the sort of speciality that may occur when you do drink a lot fast, or – even better – do speed and drink. The credits on the label already are a sort of review: “both tracks pumped up, harpooned and digitally sandblasted beyond normality by the chairman of the bastard noise affiliation a.k.a. dj hellfish”. So if you’re reluctant to pick up yet another DC with a mixture of hip hop breaks and gabber bassdrums, then check this one out and get blasted.
(Hangars Liquides 022)
Hangars Liquides is certainly one of the most progressive labels from Paris; once upon a time it started as a flag bearer of harsh speedcore with a strong alliance to the Breton sound via EPC and XKV8, now structures are ultimatively broken and conventions smashed again. Label owner La Peste is of course leading the way here, but I:Gor makes a natural ally. While his earlier release on HL was still much more conventional and his recent outing on Russian Roulette is excellent and comes close, but still doesn’t reach the radicality of this one. DSP-terror and speedcore, twisted noise, fast breaks and brutal steppers make this a feast for the connoisseur.
Mem Panmal / Maniak & middle M
Side a is a drawn out stepping track with a simple beat and synths, plus a mid-tempo hardcore exploit with breakbeat inserts that somehow compromises itself into a hardtekcore +breaks and simple melodyline track.
The b-side continues on a hardtekcore tip without the breaks, while the second track is a stepping rework; too bad that the synthline continues through the whole track, instilling a monotonous feel, but the use in the mix might still be fruitful.
Love, Peace & Harmony !? (1996-1998)
(Phantomnoise Records 003)
7 tracks by Pro-Test and Alex Dee made on Amiga 600, energetic break-/speedcore with a punk attitude from Leipzig. On the cover we see the old Amiga burning. A look back and goodbye to the trashcore days. Hand-numbered edition of 500 copies. Destroy!
Necromaniacs Industry 01
A 12” comp with cool harsh-step tracks by Fast Forward, Noize Creator, Syntax and FFF – distortion, tough beats and noise galore as we like it mark the debut of this new French label. Especially Fast Forward have been putting out tracks – e.g. the Short EPK 004 – that were treading the ol’ frennch hardcore vein, but with some pure breakbeat tracks, but here they do go a ‘step’ further.
Filthy Dirty Bitch
The Headfuk sound system have kept busy holding it down in London, and in addition to their main imprint (which has released 6 records so far), they come forward with a slab of vinyl featuring two raucous pieces situated somewhere between broken beat, drum’n’bass and breakcore. A fat bassdrum and nicely rolling but carefully edited breaks characterise the A side that almost enters hardcore territory, but staying just a bit too nervous to become complacent, thankfully.
A fresh and undogmatic appraoch to breakcore, with the odd sprinkling of speedcore elements from this offshoot of Fraktal. Slow harshness collides with turbobreaks and performs an autopsy on the corpse of french hardcore. yes!
The Painfree Foundsound Institute
Australian production by “Judas”, 5 tracks of classical, a little bit generic, but still energetic, trashy but playable breakcore. Presumably 8-bit, if not less, the sound occasionally threatens to fall apart completely, the means to hold the mess together is a straight kickdrum that crops up in a couple of tracks. Not entirely painfree.
He Who makes A beast of Himself Gets Rid of the Pain of Being a Man
3 tracks of harsh stepping metallic breakcore madness from the beasts of Rennes, all pleasantly noisy and euphoric, i.e. kicking, following somewhat ambush-esque footsteps, but definitely with genuine energy. Baby, where has our pain gone?
above reviews by cf ________________
yes yes, this review section is lacking, spanning about 2 years and obviously LOTS of important records missing – so apologies to those who (probably rightly) expected their tunes to be reviewed here. The long gap since the last issue of datacide is the main reason here. An attempt to get it up to date was, to be honest, not made – it would have meant either to ditch the older reviews – something we didn’t want to do – or to even further expand the number of pages – something we couldn’t afford.
This doesn’t mean we don’t see it as one of datacides jobs to cover the releases that matter in the fields of experimental hardcore, breaks and noise, we’re just asking you to bear with us till the next issue – which will appear with a much shorter gap, and will attempt to catch up on both the news from now till then as well as some of the records that were left out here.
And don’t forget that everyone can contribute to making sure that the next datacide can appear in six months as planned – by taking out a subscription (see details elsewhere) or by advertising (rates/deals upon request from firstname.lastname@example.org).